Global Coronavirus Cases Hit 500,000, Half a Million People Have Now Been Infected With the Virus

The coronavirus has infected more than half a million people around the world across at least 175 countries. 120,000 people have recovered from infection, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The virus, which was first detected in the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei province, has spread to more than 500,000 people. China has more than 81,800 cases, with around 3,200 fatalities and 73,000 recoveries. With more infections now reported outside China than within, the country claims the outbreak has been largely contained.

Italy has seen the most number of cases outside China, with nearly 74,300 confirmed infections, followed by the U.S., where more than 69,600 people have tested positive for the virus.

Europe has overtaken China as the epicenter of the outbreak, with Spain (over 56,100 cases) and Germany (over 41,500 cases) also ranking in the top five countries outside China with the highest number of cases.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization warned that the U.S. has the potential to experience a widespread outbreak. When asked whether the U.S. could become the new epicenter of the virus, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters: "We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential."

Travel bans and other restrictions have been introduced in various parts of the world in a bid to help curb the spread of the virus. Strict lockdown measures and increased virus testing appeared to be among the key factors in mitigating the spread.

While China has coped with the highest number of cases in the world by a large margin, imposing a strict, large-scale lockdown in Wuhan from the onset of the outbreak allowed it to curtail the spread. This week, for the first time in two months, outbound travel restrictions were lifted in Hubei, while restrictions in Wuhan are expected to be lifted next month.

South Korea, which formerly had one of the largest number of cases outside China, managed to slow the spread of the virus, much of which has been credited to the country's rigorous virus testing. South Korea has tested more than 316,000 people as of March 20, according to Statista.

Figure Skating Championships in Seoul,February 9, 2020
Spectators wear face masks as they watch the exhibition gala at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Seoul on February 9, 2020. Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person, the World Health Organization (WHO) advises. Getty Images

The U.S. has conducted at least 370,000 virus tests, the majority of which were done in the last eight days, Dr. Deborah Birx, a physician and health expert on the COVID-19 virus task force, confirmed earlier this week at a White House press briefing.

"The majority of those—over 220,000 in the last eight days, which, those of you who have been tracking the South Korea numbers, put us equivalent to what they did in eight weeks that we did in eight days," she said at the briefing.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the world.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the world.
The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the world.

Top 10 countries with most COVID-19 cases outside China

(as of March 26, 2020)

  1. Italy (over 74,300 cases)
  2. U.S. (over 69,600 cases)
  3. Spain (over 56,100 cases)
  4. Germany (over 41,500 cases)Iran (over 29,400 cases)
  5. France (over 25,600 cases)
  6. Switzerland (over 11,700 cases)
  7. South Korea (over 9,200 cases)
  8. U.K. (over 9,900 cases)
  9. The Netherlands (over 7,400 cases)

Data on COVID-19 cases is from Johns Hopkins University unless otherwise stated.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the recovery curve compared to the infection curve of the virus.

Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.
Number of COVID-19 cases compared to recoveries.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.