|Cases per capita
Confirmed cases per 100,000 population as of 16 December 2020
|Cases per capita|
|Daily new cases
Daily new cases as of 7 December 2020 (7 day rolling average)
|Daily new cases|
|Disease||Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‑19)|
|Virus strain||Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‑CoV‑2)|
|Source||Possibly via bats, pangolins, or both|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, China|
|Index case||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Date||December 2019 (2019-12) – present
(1 year, 2 weeks and 2 days)
|Suspected cases||Possibly 10% of global population (WHO estimate as of early October 2020)|
It leaves an infected person as they breathe, cough, sneeze, or speak and enters another person via their mouth, nose, or eyes.
It might also spread via contaminated surfaces.
People remain infectious for up to two weeks, and can spread the virus even if they do not have symptoms.
Recommended preventive measures include social distancing, wearing a face mask in public, ventilation and air-filtering, hand washing, covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing, disinfecting surfaces, and monitoring and self-isolation for people exposed or symptomatic.
There are several COVID-19 vaccines in development.
It has led to the postponement or cancellation of events, widespread supply shortages exacerbated by panic buying, agricultural disruption and food shortages, and decreased emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases.
Educational institutions have been partially or fully closed.
Misinformation has circulated through social media and mass media.
The virus that caused the outbreak is known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), a newly discovered virus closely related to bat coronaviruses, pangolin coronaviruses, and SARS-CoV.
The scientific consensus is that COVID-19 has a natural origin.
The earliest known person with symptoms was later discovered to have fallen ill on 1 December 2019, and that person did not have visible connections with the later wet market cluster.
Of the early cluster of cases reported that month, two-thirds were found to have a link with the market.
There are several theories about when and where the very first case (the so-called patient zero) originated.
It is possible that the virus first emerged in October 2019.
Official case counts refer to the number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 and whose test has been confirmed positive according to official protocols.
Many countries, early on, had official policies to not test those with only mild symptoms.
An analysis of the early phase of the outbreak up to 23 January estimated 86 percent of COVID-19 infections had not been detected, and that these undocumented infections were the source for 79 percent of documented cases.
Several other studies, using a variety of methods, have estimated that numbers of infections in many countries are likely to be considerably greater than the reported cases.
Screening for COVID-19 in pregnant women in New York City, and blood donors in the Netherlands, has also found rates of positive antibody tests that may indicate more infections than reported.
Seroprevalence based estimates are conservative as some studies shown that persons with mild symptoms do not have detectable antibodies.
Some results (such as the Gangelt study) have received substantial press coverage without first passing through peer review.
Analysis by age in China indicates that a relatively low proportion of cases occur in individuals under 20.
It was not clear whether this was because young people were less likely to be infected, or less likely to develop serious symptoms and seek medical attention and be tested.
Initial estimates of the basic reproduction number (R0) for COVID-19 in January were between 1.4 and 2.5, but a subsequent analysis concluded that it may be about 5.7 (with a 95 percent confidence interval of 3.8 to 8.9).
By mid-May 2020, the effective R was close to or below 1.0 in many countries, meaning the spread of the disease in these areas at that time was stable or decreasing.
Further information: List of deaths due to COVID-19
Official deaths from COVID-19 generally refer to people who died after testing positive according to protocols.
This may ignore deaths of people who die without having been tested.
Conversely, deaths of people who had underlying conditions may lead to over-counting.
Comparison of statistics for deaths for all causes versus the seasonal average indicates excess mortality in many countries.
This may include deaths due to strained healthcare systems and bans on elective surgery.
The first confirmed death was in Wuhan on 9 January 2020.
The first reported death outside of China occurred on 1 February in the Philippines, and the first reported death outside Asia was in the United States on 6 February.
More than 95% of the people who contract COVID-19 recover.
Otherwise, the time between symptoms onset and death usually ranges from 6 to 41 days, typically about 14 days.
As of 17 December 2020, more than 1.64 million deaths had been attributed to COVID-19.
On 24 March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States, indicated the World Health Organization (WHO) had provided two codes for COVID-19: U07.1 when confirmed by laboratory testing and U07.2 for clinically or epidemiological diagnosis where laboratory confirmation is inconclusive or not available.
The CDC noted that "Because laboratory test results are not typically reported on death certificates in the U.S., [the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)] is not planning to implement U07.2 for mortality statistics" and that U07.1 would be used "If the death certificate reports terms such as 'probable COVID-19' or 'likely COVID-19'."
The CDC also noted "It Is not likely that NCHS will follow up on these cases" and while the "underlying cause depends upon what and where conditions are reported on the death certificate, ... the rules for coding and selection of the ... cause of death are expected to result in COVID–19 being the underlying cause more often than not."
On 16 April 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO), in its formal publication of the two codes, U07.1 and U07.2, "recognized that in many countries detail as to the laboratory confirmation... will not be reported [and] recommended, for mortality purposes only, to code COVID-19 provisionally to code U07.1 unless it is stated as 'probable' or 'suspected'."
It was also noted that the WHO "does not distinguish" between infection by SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
Multiple measures are used to quantify mortality.
These numbers vary by region and over time, influenced by testing volume, healthcare system quality, treatment options, government response, time since the initial outbreak, and population characteristics, such as age, sex, and overall health.
Countries like Belgium include deaths from suspected cases of COVID-19, regardless of whether the person was tested, resulting in higher numbers compared to countries that include only test-confirmed cases.
The death-to-case ratio reflects the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 divided by the number of diagnosed cases within a given time interval.
Based on Johns Hopkins University statistics, the global death-to-case ratio is 2.2 percent (1,649,480 deaths for 74,248,878 cases) as of 17 December 2020.
The number varies by region.
Infection fatality ratio (IFR)
The most important metric in assessing death rate is the infection fatality ratio (IFR), which is deaths attributed to disease divided by individuals infected (including all asymptomatic and undiagnosed) to-date.
In March, a peer-reviewed analysis of pre-serology data from mainland China yielded an overall IFR of 0.66% (with age-bracketed values ranging from 0.00161% for 0–9 years to 0.595% for 50–59 years to 7.8% for > 80 years).
In April 2020, an IFR range of 0.12–1.08% was derived from non-peer-reviewed serology surveys, with the upper bound characterized as much more credible and the range indicated as from 3 to 27 times deadlier than influenza (0.04%).
In July 2020, the US CDC adopted the IFR as a "more directly measurable parameter for disease severity for COVID-19" and computed an overall 'best estimate' for planning purposes for the U.S. of 0.65%.
In September, the CDC computed an age-bracketed 'best estimate' for the U.S. of 0.003% for 0–19 years; 0.02% for 20–49 years; 0.5% for 50–69 years; and 5.4% for 70+ years.
In August 2020, the WHO reported serology testing for three locations in Europe (with some data through 2 June) that showed IFR overall estimates converging at approximately 0.5-1%.
A systematic review article in The BMJ advised that "caution is warranted ... using serological tests for ... epidemiological surveillance" and called for higher quality studies assessing accuracy with reference to a standard of "RT-PCR performed on at least two consecutive specimens, and, when feasible, includ[ing] viral cultures."
CEBM researchers have called for in-hospital 'case definition' to record "CT lung findings and associated blood tests" and for the WHO to produce a "protocol to standardise the use and interpretation of PCR" with continuous re-calibration.
In September 2020, a Bulletin of the World Health Organization article by John Ioannidis estimated global IFR inferred from seroprevalence data at 0.23% overall and 0.05% for people < 70 years, much lower than estimates made earlier in the pandemic.
Ioannides criticized prior "average IFR ... irresponsibly circulated widely in media and social media" as "probably extremely flawed as they depended on erroneous modeling assumptions, and/or focused only on selecting mostly studies from countries [with a] high death burden (that indeed have higher IFRs), and/or were done by inexperienced authors who used overtly wrong meta-analysis methods in a situation where there is extreme between-study heterogeneity."
As the data for his analysis was drawn "predominantly from hard-hit epicenters", Ioannides indicates that even lower "average values of 0.15–0.25% ... and 0.03–0.04% for <70 years) as of October 2020 are plausible."
He also notes that in European countries with a large numbers of cases and deaths and in the U.S., "many, and in many cases most, deaths occurred in nursing homes".
On 6 October 2020, Dr. Mike Ryan, director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme announced "Our current best estimates tell us that about 10% of the global population may have been infected by this virus."
Also in October, the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM) reported a 'presumed estimate' of global IFR at between 0.10% to 0.35%, noting that this will vary between populations due to differences in demographics.
These researchers noted a decrease in IFR in England over time; and, for the UK and Italy (the two Europeans nations worst hit by COVID-19), attribute the rise in daily cases, stability in daily deaths, and shift of cases to a younger population to waning viral circulation, misapplication of testing, and misinterpretation of test results rather than to prevention, treatment, or virus mutation.
Case fatality ratio (CFR)
Another metric in assessing death rate is the case fatality ratio (CFR), which is deaths attributed to disease divided by individuals diagnosed to-date.
This metric can be misleading because of the delay between symptom onset and death and because testing focuses on individuals with symptoms (and particularly on those manifesting more severe symptoms).
On 4 August, WHO indicated "at this early stage of the pandemic, most estimates of fatality ratios have been based on cases detected through surveillance and calculated using crude methods, giving rise to widely variable estimates of CFR by country – from less than 0.1% to over 25%."
Main article: Coronavirus disease 2019
Signs and symptoms
Main article: Symptoms of COVID-19
Main article: Transmission of COVID-19
Main article: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
Main article: Coronavirus disease 2019 § Diagnosis
Further information: COVID-19 testing
Main article: COVID-19 vaccine
On 4 February 2020, US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar published a notice of declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act for medical countermeasures against COVID‑19, covering "any vaccine, used to treat, diagnose, cure, prevent, or mitigate COVID‑19, or the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 or a virus mutating therefrom", and stating that the declaration precludes "liability claims alleging negligence by a manufacturer in creating a vaccine, or negligence by a health care provider in prescribing the wrong dose, absent willful misconduct".
The declaration is effective in the United States through 1 October 2024.
On 8 December it was reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine is about 70% effective, according to a study.
Main article: Treatment and management of COVID-19
Further information: Coronavirus disease 2019 § Prognosis
Main article: Mitigation of COVID-19
Screening, containment and mitigation
Strategies in the control of an outbreak are screening, containment (or suppression), and mitigation.
Screening is done with a device such as a thermometer to detect the elevated body temperature associated with fevers caused by the coronavirus.
Containment is undertaken in the early stages of the outbreak and aims to trace and isolate those infected as well as introduce other measures to stop the disease from spreading.
When it is no longer possible to contain the disease, efforts then move to the mitigation stage: measures are taken to slow the spread and mitigate its effects on the healthcare system and on society.
A combination of both containment and mitigation measures may be undertaken at the same time.
Suppression requires more extreme measures so as to reverse the pandemic by reducing the basic reproduction number to less than 1.
Part of managing an infectious disease outbreak is trying to delay and decrease the epidemic peak, known as flattening the epidemic curve.
This decreases the risk of health services being overwhelmed and provides more time for vaccines and treatments to be developed.
Non-pharmaceutical interventions that may manage the outbreak include personal preventive measures such as hand hygiene, wearing face masks, and self-quarantine; community measures aimed at physical distancing such as closing schools and cancelling mass gathering events; community engagement to encourage acceptance and participation in such interventions; as well as environmental measures such surface cleaning.
More drastic actions aimed at containing the outbreak were taken in China once the severity of the outbreak became apparent, such as quarantining entire cities and imposing strict travel bans.
Other countries also adopted a variety of measures aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.
South Korea introduced the mass screening and localised quarantines and issued alerts on the movements of infected individuals.
Singapore provided financial support for those infected who quarantined themselves and imposed large fines for those who failed to do so.
Taiwan increased face mask production and penalised the hoarding of medical supplies.
Simulations for Great Britain and the United States show that mitigation (slowing but not stopping epidemic spread) and suppression (reversing epidemic growth) have major challenges.
Optimal mitigation policies might reduce peak healthcare demand by two-thirds and deaths by half, but still result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and overwhelmed health systems.
Suppression can be preferred but needs to be maintained for as long as the virus is circulating in the human population (or until a vaccine becomes available), as transmission otherwise quickly rebounds when measures are relaxed.
Long-term intervention to suppress the pandemic has considerable social and economic costs.
Contact tracing is an important method for health authorities to determine the source of infection and to prevent further transmission.
The use of location data from mobile phones by governments for this purpose has prompted privacy concerns, with Amnesty International and more than a hundred other organisations issuing a statement calling for limits on this kind of surveillance.
Several mobile apps have been implemented or proposed for voluntary use, and as of 7 April 2020 more than a dozen expert groups were working on privacy-friendly solutions such as using Bluetooth to log a user's proximity to other cellphones.
(Users are alerted if they have been near someone who subsequently tests positive.)
The system is intended to allow governments to create official privacy-preserving coronavirus tracking apps, with the eventual goal of integration of this functionality directly into the iOS and Android mobile platforms.
In Europe and in the U.S., Palantir Technologies is also providing COVID-19 tracking services.
Increasing capacity and adapting healthcare for the needs of COVID-19 patients is described by the WHO as a fundamental outbreak response measure.
The ECDC and the European regional office of the WHO have issued guidelines for hospitals and primary healthcare services for shifting of resources at multiple levels, including focusing laboratory services towards COVID-19 testing, cancelling elective procedures whenever possible, separating and isolating COVID-19 positive patients, and increasing intensive care capabilities by training personnel and increasing the number of available ventilators and beds.
In addition, in an attempt to maintain physical distancing, and to protect both patients and clinicians, in some areas non-emergency healthcare services are being provided virtually.
In one example, when an Italian hospital urgently required a ventilator valve, and the supplier was unable to deliver in the timescale required, a local startup received legal threats due to alleged patent infringement after reverse-engineering and printing the required hundred valves overnight.
On 23 April 2020, NASA reported building, in 37 days, a ventilator which is currently undergoing further testing.
NASA is seeking fast-track approval.
Main article: Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic
Further information: Pandemic prevention and Pandemic predictions and preparations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
Main article: Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019
Based on the retrospective analysis, starting from December 2019, the number of COVID-19 cases in Hubei gradually increased, reaching 60 by 20 December and at least 266 by 31 December.
That same day, the WHO received reports of a cluster of viral pneumonia cases of an unknown cause in Wuhan, and an investigation was launched at the start of January 2020.
According to official Chinese sources, these early cases were mostly linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which also sold live animals.
However, in May 2020, George Gao, the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said animal samples collected from the seafood market had tested negative for the virus, indicating the market was not the source of the initial outbreak.
On 27 and 28 December, Vision Medicals informed the Wuhan Central Hospital and the Chinese CDC of the results of the test, showing a new coronavirus.
A pneumonia cluster of unknown cause was observed on 26 December and treated by the doctor Zhang Jixian in Hubei Provincial Hospital, who informed the Wuhan Jianghan CDC on 27 December.
On 30 December 2019, a test report addressed to Wuhan Central Hospital, from company CapitalBio Medlab, stated that there was an erroneous positive result for SARS, causing a group of doctors at Wuhan Central Hospital to alert their colleagues and relevant hospital authorities of the result.
Eight of those doctors, including Li Wenliang (who was also punished on 3 January), were later admonished by the police for spreading false rumours; and another doctor, Ai Fen, was reprimanded by her superiors for raising the alarm.
That evening, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued a notice to various medical institutions about "the treatment of pneumonia of unknown cause".
The next day, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission made the first public announcement of a pneumonia outbreak of unknown cause, confirming 27 cases—enough to trigger an investigation.
During the early stages of the outbreak, the number of cases doubled approximately every seven and a half days.
On 20 January, China reported nearly 140 new cases in one day, including two people in Beijing and one in Shenzhen.
A retrospective official study published in March found that 6,174 people had already developed symptoms by 20 January (most of them would be diagnosed later) and more may have been infected.
A report in The Lancet on 24 January indicated human transmission, strongly recommended personal protective equipment for health workers, and said testing for the virus was essential due to its "pandemic potential".
On 30 January 2020, with 7,818 confirmed cases across 19 countries, the WHO declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and then a pandemic on 11 March 2020 as Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan reported increasing numbers of cases.
Later that month, the number of cases outside of China quickly surpassed the number of cases inside China.
On 31 January 2020, Italy had its first confirmed cases, two tourists from China.
As of 13 March 2020, the WHO considered Europe the active centre of the pandemic.
On 19 March 2020, Italy overtook China as the country with the most reported deaths.
By 26 March, the United States had overtaken China and Italy with the highest number of confirmed cases in the world.
Retesting of prior samples found a person in France who had the virus on 27 December 2019 and a person in the United States who died from the disease on 6 February 2020.
On 11 June 2020, after 55 days without a locally transmitted case being officially reported, the city of Beijing reported a single COVID-19 case, followed by two more cases on 12 June.
As of 15 June 2020, 79 cases were officially confirmed.
Most of these patients went to Xinfadi Wholesale Market.
On 29 June 2020, WHO warned that the spread of the virus is still accelerating as countries reopen their economies, although many countries have made progress in slowing down the spread.
On 15 July 2020, one COVID-19 case was officially reported in Dalian in more than three months.
The patient did not travel outside the city in the 14 days before developing symptoms, nor did he have contact with people from "areas of attention."
In October 2020, the WHO stated, at a special meeting of WHO leaders, that one in ten people around the world may have been infected with COVID-19.
At the time, that translated to 780 million people being infected, while only 35 million infections had been confirmed.
All twelve human cases of the mutated variant were identified in September 2020.
The WHO released a report saying the variant "had a combination of mutations, or changes that have not been previously observed."
In response, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ordered for the country – the world's largest producer of mink fur – to cull its mink population by as many as 17 million.
On 9 November 2020, Pfizer released their trial results for a candidate vaccine, showing that it is 90% effective against the virus.
The 9 November announcement does not mean the vaccine is about to be released.
However, virologist and U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci indicated that the Pfizer vaccine targets the spike protein used to infect cells by the virus.
Some issues left to be answered are how long the vaccine offers protection, and if it offers the same level of protection to all ages.
Initial doses will likely go to healthcare workers on the front lines.
On 9 November 2020 the United States surpassed 10 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, making it the country with the most cases worldwide by a large margin.
As of 17 December 2020, more than 74.2 million cases have been reported worldwide due to COVID-19; more than 1.64 million have died and more than 41.9 million have recovered.
It was reported on 27 November, that a publication released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the current numbers of viral infection are via confirmed laboratory test only.
However, the true number could be about eight times the reported number; the report further indicated that the true number of virus infected cases could be around 100 million in the U.S.
The variant, named ‘VUI – 202012/01’, showed changes to the spike protein which could make the virus more infectious.
As of 13 December, there were 1,108 cases identified.
A total of 191 countries and territories have had at least one case of COVID-19 so far.
The WHO's recommendation on curfews and lockdowns is that they should be short-term measures to reorganize, regroup, rebalance resources, and protect health workers who are exhausted.
To achieve a balance between restrictions and normal life, the long-term responses to the pandemic should consist of strict personal hygiene, effective contact tracing, and isolating when ill.
By 26 March 2020, 1.7 billion people worldwide were under some form of lockdown, which increased to 3.9 billion people by the first week of April—more than half the world's population.
By late April 2020, around 300 million people were under lockdown in nations of Europe, including but not limited to Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom, while around 200 million people were under lockdown in Latin America.
Nearly 300 million people, or about 90 percent of the population, were under some form of lockdown in the United States, around 100 million people in the Philippines, about 59 million people in South Africa, and 1.3 billion people have been under lockdown in India.
On 21 May 2020, 100,000 new infections occurred worldwide, the most since the start of the pandemic, while overall 5 million cases were surpassed.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Asia
Despite being the first area of the world hit by the outbreak, the early wide-scale response of some Asian states, particularly Mongolia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, has allowed them to fare comparatively well.
As of 9 December 2020, Singapore has the lowest case fatality rate in the world, at 0.51 deaths per 100,000.
The pandemic has had direct side effects, per a report on 28 November, in Japan.
According to the report by the country's National Police Agency, suicides had increased to 2,153 in October.
Experts also state that the pandemic has worsened mental health issues due to lockdowns and isolation from family members, among other issues.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in mainland China
As of 14 July 2020, there are 83,545 cases confirmed in China— excluding 114 asymptomatic cases, 62 of which were imported, under medical observation; asymptomatic cases have not been reported prior to 31 March 2020—with 4,634 deaths and 78,509 recoveries, meaning there are only 402 cases.
Hubei has the most cases, followed by Xinjiang.
It was reported on 25 November, that some 1 million people in the country of China have been vaccinated according to China's state council; the vaccines against COVID-19 come from Sinopharm which makes two and one produced by Sinovac.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in India
The first case of COVID-19 in India originated from China and was reported on 30 January 2020.
India ordered a nationwide lockdown for the entire population starting 24 March 2020, with a phased unlock beginning 1 June 2020.
As of September 2020, India had the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia; and the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world, behind the United States, with the number of total confirmed cases breaching the 100,000 mark on 19 May 2020, 1,000,000 on 16 July 2020, and 5,000,000 confirmed cases on 16 September 2020.
On 30 August 2020, India surpassed the US record for the most cases in a single day, with more than 78,000 cases, and set a new record on 16 September 2020, with almost 98,000 cases reported that day.
On 10 June 2020, India's recoveries exceeded active cases for the first time.
As of 30 August 2020, India's case fatality rate is relatively low at 2.3%, against the global 4.7%.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Iran
Early measures announced by the government included the cancellation of concerts and other cultural events, sporting events, Friday prayers, and closures of universities, higher education institutions, and schools.
Iran allocated 5 trillion rials (equivalent to US$120,000,000) to combat the virus.
President Hassan Rouhani said on 26 February 2020 there were no plans to quarantine areas affected by the outbreak, and only individuals would be quarantined.
Plans to limit travel between cities were announced in March 2020, although heavy traffic between cities ahead of the Persian New Year Nowruz continued.
Shia shrines in Qom remained open to pilgrims until 16 March.
Iran became a centre of the spread of the virus after China during February 2020.
More than ten countries had traced their cases back to Iran by 28 February, indicating the outbreak may have been more severe than the 388 cases reported by the Iranian government by that date.
The Iranian Parliament was shut down, with 23 of its 290 members reported to have had tested positive for the virus on 3 March 2020.
On 15 March 2020, the Iranian government reported a hundred deaths in a single day, the most recorded in the country since the outbreak began.
At least twelve sitting or former Iranian politicians and government officials had died from the disease by 17 March 2020.
By 23 March 2020, Iran was experiencing fifty new cases every hour and one new death every ten minutes due to coronavirus.
According to a WHO official, there may be five times more cases in Iran than what is being reported.
It is also suggested that U.S. sanctions on Iran may be affecting the country's financial ability to respond to the viral outbreak.
On 20 April 2020, Iran reopened shopping malls and other shopping areas across the country.
After reaching a low in new cases in early May, a new peak was reported on 4 June 2020, raising fear of a second wave.
On 18 July 2020, President Rouhani estimated that 25 million Iranians had already become infected, which is considerably higher than the official count.
Leaked data suggest that 42,000 people had died with COVID-19 symptoms by 20 July 2020, nearly tripling the 14,405 officially reported by that date.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea
COVID-19 was confirmed to have spread to South Korea on 20 January 2020 from China.
Shincheonji devotees visiting Daegu from Wuhan were suspected to be the origin of the outbreak.
By 22 February, among 9,336 followers of the church, 1,261 or about 13 percent reported symptoms.
South Korea declared the highest level of alert on 23 February 2020.
On 29 February, more than 3,150 confirmed cases were reported.
All South Korean military bases were quarantined after tests showed three soldiers had the virus.
Airline schedules were also changed.
South Korea introduced what was considered the largest and best-organised programme in the world to screen the population for the virus, isolate any infected people, and trace and quarantine those who contacted them.
Screening methods included mandatory self-reporting of symptoms by new international arrivals through mobile application, drive-through testing for the virus with the results available the next day, and increasing testing capability to allow up to 20,000 people to be tested every day.
Despite some early criticisms of President Moon Jae-in's response to the crisis, South Korea's programme is considered a success in controlling the outbreak without quarantining entire cities.
On 23 March, it was reported that South Korea had the lowest one-day case total in four weeks.
On 29 March it was reported that beginning 1 April all new overseas arrivals will be quarantined for two weeks.
Per media reports on 1 April, South Korea has received requests for virus testing assistance from 121 different countries.
Persistent local groups of infections in the greater Seoul area continued to be found, which led to Korea's CDC director saying in June that the country had entered the second wave of infections, although a WHO official disagreed with that assessment.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Europe
On 21 August, it was reported the COVID-19 cases were climbing among younger individuals across Europe.
On 21 November, it was reported by the Voice of America that Europe is the worst hit area by the COVID-19 virus, with numbers exceeding 15 million cases
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in France
Although it was originally thought the pandemic reached France on 24 January 2020, when the first COVID-19 case in Europe was confirmed in Bordeaux, it was later discovered that a person near Paris had tested positive for the virus on 27 December 2019 after retesting old samples.
A key event in the spread of the disease in the country was the annual assembly of the Christian Open Door Church between 17 and 24 February in Mulhouse, which was attended by about 2,500 people, at least half of whom are believed to have contracted the virus.
On 13 March, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ordered the closure of all non-essential public places, and on 16 March, French President Emmanuel Macron announced mandatory home confinement, a policy which was extended at least until 11 May.
As of 14 September, France has reported more than 402,000 confirmed cases, 30,000 deaths, and 90,000 recoveries, ranking fourth in number of confirmed cases.
In April, there were riots in some Paris suburbs.
On 18 May, it was reported that schools in France had to close again after reopening, due to COVID-19 case flare-ups.
On 12 November it was reported that France had become the worst hit country by the COVID-19 pandemic, in all of Europe, in the process surpassing Russia.
The new total of confirmed cases was more than 1.8 million and counting; additionally it was indicated by the French government that the current national lockdown would remain in place.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
The outbreak was confirmed to have spread to Italy on 31 January, when two Chinese tourists tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in Rome.
Cases began to rise sharply, which prompted the Italian government to suspend all flights to and from China and declare a state of emergency.
An unassociated cluster of COVID-19 cases was later detected, starting with 16 confirmed cases in Lombardy on 21 February.
On 22 February, the Council of Ministers announced a new decree-law to contain the outbreak, including quarantining more than 50,000 people from eleven different municipalities in northern Italy.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, "In the outbreak areas, entry and exit will not be provided.
Suspension of work activities and sports events has already been ordered in those areas."
On 4 March, the Italian government ordered the full closure of all schools and universities nationwide as Italy reached a hundred deaths.
All major sporting events were to be held behind closed doors until April, but on 9 March all sport was suspended completely for at least one month.
On 11 March, Prime Minister Conte ordered stoppage of nearly all commercial activity except supermarkets and pharmacies.
On 19 March, Italy overtook China as the country with the most coronavirus-related deaths in the world after reporting 3,405 fatalities from the pandemic.
On 22 March, it was reported that Russia had sent nine military planes with medical equipment to Italy.
As of 14 September, there were 287,753 confirmed cases, 35,610 deaths, and 213,634 recoveries in Italy, with the majority of those cases occurring in the Lombardy region.
A CNN report indicated that the combination of Italy's large elderly population and inability to test all who have the virus to date may be contributing to the high fatality rate.
On 19 April, it was reported that the country had its lowest deaths at 433 in seven days and some businesses are asking for a loosening of restrictions after six weeks of lockdown.
On 13 October 2020, the Italian government again issued restrictive rules to contain a rise in infections.
On 11 November, it was reported that Silvestro Scotti, president of the Italian Federation of General Practitioners indicated that all of Italy should come under restrictions due to the coronavirus.
A couple of days prior Filippo Anelli, president of the National Federation of Doctor's Guilds (FNOMCEO) asked for a complete lockdown of the peninsular nation due to the pandemic.
On the 10th, a day before, Italy surpassed 1 million confirmed COVID-19 cases.
On 23 November it was reported that the second wave of the virus has caused some hospitals in Italy to stop accepting patients.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Spain
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden
Sweden differed from most other European countries in that it mostly remained open.
Per the Swedish Constitution, the Public Health Agency of Sweden has autonomy which prevents political interference and the agency's policy favoured forgoing a lockdown.
The Swedish strategy focused on measures that could be put in place over a longer period of time, based on the assumption that the virus would start spreading again after a shorter lockdown.
The New York Times said that, as of May 2020, the outbreak had been far deadlier there but the economic impact had been reduced as Swedes have continued to go to work, restaurants, and shopping.
On 19 May, it was reported that the country had in the week of 12–19 May the highest per capita deaths in Europe, 6.25 deaths per million per day.
In the end of June, Sweden no longer had excess mortality.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom
Devolution in the United Kingdom meant that each of the four countries of the UK had its own different response to COVID-19, and the UK government, on behalf of England, moved quicker to lift restrictions.
The UK government started enforcing social distancing and quarantine measures on 18 March 2020 and was criticised for a perceived lack of intensity in its response to concerns faced by the public.
On 16 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised against non-essential travel and social contact, suggesting people work from home and avoid venues such as pubs, restaurants, and theatres.
On 20 March, the government announced that all leisure establishments to close as soon as possible, and promised to prevent unemployment.
On 23 March, Johnson banned gatherings of multiple people and restricting non-essential travel and outdoor activity.
Unlike previous measures, these restrictions were enforceable by police through fines and dispersal of gatherings.
Most unessential businesses were ordered to close.
On 24 April it was reported that a promising vaccine trial had begun in England; the government pledged more than £50 million towards research.
A number of temporary critical care hospitals were built.
The first operating was the 4000-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital London, constructed for over nine days.
On 4 May, it was announced that it would be placed on standby and remaining patients transferred to other facilities; 51 patients had been treated in the first three weeks.
On 16 April it was reported that the UK would have first access to the Oxford vaccine, due to a prior contract; should the trial be successful, some 30 million doses in the UK would be available.
On 2 December the UK became the first Western country to approve the Pfizer vaccine against the COVID-19 virus; 800,000 doses will be immediately available for use It was reported on 5 December that the United Kingdom would begin vaccination against the virus on the 8th of December, less than a week after having been approved.
On 9 December, MHRA stated that any individual with a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, such as an anaphylactoid reaction, should not take the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 protection.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in North America
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in the United States
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in South America
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil
On 20 May it was reported that Brazil had a record 1,179 deaths in a single day, for a total of almost 18,000 fatalities.
With a total number of almost 272,000 cases, Brazil became the country with the third-highest number of cases, following Russia and the United States.
On 25 May, Brazil exceeded the number of reported cases in Russia when they reported that 11,687 new cases had been confirmed over the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number to over 374,800, with more than 23,400 deaths.
President Jair Bolsonaro has created a great deal of controversy referring to the virus as a "little flu" and frequently speaking out against preventive measures such as lockdowns and quarantines.
His attitude towards the outbreak has so closely matched that of President Trump he has been called the "Trump of the Tropics".
Bolsonaro later tested positive for the virus.
In June 2020, the government of Brazil attempted to conceal the actual figures of the COVID-19 active cases and deaths, as it stopped publishing the total number of infections and deaths.
On 5 June, Brazil's health ministry took down the official website reflecting the total numbers of infections and deaths.
The website was live on 6 June, with only the number of infections of the previous 24 hours.
The last official numbers reported about 615,000 infections and over 34,000 deaths.
On 15 June, it was reported that the worldwide cases had jumped from seven to eight million in one week, citing Latin America, specifically Brazil as one of the countries where cases are surging, in this case, towards 1 million cases.
Brazil briefly paused Phase III trials for the CoronavacCOVID-19 vaccine on 10 November after the suicide of a volunteer before resuming on 11 November.
Main article: COVID-19 pandemic in Oceania
Further information: Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic and International aid related to the COVID-19 pandemic
Main article: Travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic
As a result of the pandemic, many countries and regions imposed quarantines, entry bans, or other restrictions, either for citizens, recent travellers to affected areas, or for all travellers.
Concerns have been raised over the effectiveness of travel restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.
A study in Science found that travel restrictions had only modestly affected the initial spread of COVID-19, unless combined with infection prevention and control measures to considerably reduce transmissions.
Researchers concluded that "travel restrictions are most useful in the early and late phase of an epidemic" and "restrictions of travel from Wuhan unfortunately came too late".
Evacuation of foreign citizens
Main article: Evacuations related to the COVID-19 pandemic
Owing to the effective lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei, several countries evacuated their citizens and diplomatic staff from the area, primarily through chartered flights of the home nation, with Chinese authorities providing clearance.
Canada, the United States, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, France, Argentina, Germany, and Thailand were among the first to plan the evacuation of their citizens.
Brazil and New Zealand also evacuated their own nationals and some other people.
On 14 March, South Africa repatriated 112 South Africans who tested negative for the virus from Wuhan, while four who showed symptoms were left behind to mitigate risk.
Pakistan said it would not evacuate citizens from China.
On 15 February, the U.S. announced it would evacuate Americans aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess, and on 21 February, Canada evacuated 129 Canadian passengers from the ship.
In early March, the Indian government began evacuating its citizens from Iran.
On 20 March, the United States began to partially withdraw its troops from Iraq due to the pandemic.
United Nations response measures
Main article: United Nations response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The United Nations response to the pandemic has been led by its Secretary-General and can be divided into formal resolutions at the General Assembly and at the Security Council (UNSC), and operations via its specialized agencies.
In June 2020, the Secretary-General launched its 'UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19'.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNSC) has been criticized for a slow coordinated response, especially regarding the UN's global ceasefire, which aims to open up humanitarian access to the world's most vulnerable in conflict zones.
WHO response measures
Protests against governmental measures
Main article: Protests over responses to the COVID-19 pandemic
In several countries, protests have risen against governmental restrictive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Main article: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Further information: Social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Main article: Economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
The outbreak is a major destabilising threat to the global economy.
Agathe Demarais of the Economist Intelligence Unit has forecast that markets will remain volatile until a clearer image emerges on potential outcomes.
One estimate from an expert at Washington University in St. Louis gave a $300+ billion impact on the world's supply chain that could last up to two years.
Global stock markets fell on 24 February due to a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases outside China.
On 27 February, due to mounting worries about the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. stock indexes posted their sharpest falls since 2008, with the Dow falling 1,191 points (the largest one-day drop since the financial crisis of 2007–08) and all three major indexes ending the week down more than 10 percent.
On 28 February, Scope Ratings GmbH affirmed China's sovereign credit rating but maintained a Negative Outlook.
Stocks plunged again due to coronavirus fears, the largest fall being on 16 March.
Lloyd's of London has estimated that the global insurance industry will absorb losses of US$204 billion, exceeding the losses from the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season and 11 September attacks, suggesting the COVID-19 pandemic will likely go down in history as the costliest disaster ever in human history.
Tourism is one of the worst affected sectors due to travel bans, closing of public places including travel attractions, and advice of governments against travel.
Numerous airlines have cancelled flights due to lower demand, and British regional airline Flybe collapsed.
The cruise line industry was hard hit, and several train stations and ferry ports have also been closed.
International mail between some countries stopped or was delayed due to reduced transportation between them or suspension of domestic service.
The retail sector has been impacted globally, with reductions in store hours or temporary closures.
Visits to retailers in Europe and Latin America declined by 40 percent.
North America and Middle East retailers saw a 50–60 percent drop.
This also resulted in a 33–43 percent drop in foot traffic to shopping centres in March compared to February.
Shopping mall operators around the world imposed additional measures, such as increased sanitation, installation of thermal scanners to check the temperature of shoppers, and cancellation of events.
Hundreds of millions of jobs could be lost globally.
The economic impact and mass unemployment caused by the pandemic has raised fears of a mass eviction crisis, with an analysis by the Aspen Institute indicating between 30 and 40 million Americans are at risk for eviction by the end of 2020.
According to a report by the Yelp, about 60% of U.S. businesses that have closed since the start of the pandemic will stay shut permanently.
According to a United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America estimate, the pandemic-induced recession could leave 14–22 million more people in extreme poverty in Latin America than would have been in that situation without the pandemic.
According to the World Bank, up to 100 million more people globally could fall into extreme poverty due to the shutdowns.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) informed that the income generated in first nine months of 2020 from work across the world dropped by 10.7 per cent, or $3.5 trillion, amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
Main article: Shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic
The outbreak has been blamed for several instances of supply shortages, stemming from globally increased usage of equipment to fight outbreaks, panic buying (which in several places led to shelves being cleared of grocery essentials such as food, toilet paper, and bottled water), and disruption to the factory and logistic operations.
The spread of panic buying has been found to stem from perceived threat, perceived scarcity, fear of the unknown, coping behaviour and social psychological factors (e.g. social influence and trust).
The technology industry, in particular, has warned of delays to shipments of electronic goods.
According to the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom, demand for personal protection equipment has risen a hundredfold, leading to prices up to twenty times the normal price and also delays in the supply of medical items of four to six months.
It has also caused a shortage of personal protective equipment worldwide, with the WHO warning that this will endanger health workers.
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak was worldwide.
The Yuancheng Group, headquartered in Wuhan, is one of the leading suppliers.
Price increases and shortages in these illegal drugs have been noticed on the street of the UK.
Senior officials at the United Nations estimated in April 2020 that an additional 130 million people could starve, for a total of 265 million by the end of 2020.
Oil and other energy markets
On Monday, 20 April, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) went negative and fell to a record low (minus $37.63 a barrel) due to traders' offloading holdings so as not to take delivery and incur storage costs.
June prices were down but in the positive range, with a barrel of West Texas trading above $20.
Main article: List of events affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
The performing arts and cultural heritage sectors have been profoundly affected by the pandemic, impacting organisations' operations as well as individuals—both employed and independent—globally.
Arts and culture sector organisations attempted to uphold their (often publicly funded) mission to provide access to cultural heritage to the community, maintain the safety of their employees and the public, and support artists where possible.
By March 2020, across the world and to varying degrees, museums, libraries, performance venues, and other cultural institutions had been indefinitely closed with their exhibitions, events and performances cancelled or postponed.
In response there were intensive efforts to provide alternative services through digital platforms.
Many dioceses have recommended older Christians stay home rather than attend Mass on Sundays; services have been made available via radio, online live streaming and television, though some congregations have made provisions for drive-in worship.
With the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rome closing its churches and chapels and St. emptied of Peter's SquareChristian pilgrims, other religious bodies also cancelled in-person services and limited public gatherings in churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and gurdwaras.
Iran's Health Ministry announced the cancellation of Friday prayers in areas affected by the outbreak and shrines were later closed, while Saudi Arabia banned the entry of foreign pilgrims as well as its residents to holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
The pandemic has caused the most significant disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar since the Second World War.
The outbreak disrupted plans for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, which were originally scheduled to start at 24 July 2020, and were postponed by the International Olympic Committee to 23 July 2021.
The entertainment industry has also been affected, with many music groups suspending or cancelling concert tours.
Many large theatres such as those on Broadway also suspended all performances.
Some artists have explored ways to continue to produce and share work over the internet as an alternative to traditional live performance, such as live streaming concerts or creating web-based "festivals" for artists to perform, distribute, and publicise their work.
Online, numerous COVID-19-themed Internet memes have spread as many turn to humour and distraction amid the uncertainty.
Main article: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on politics
The pandemic has affected the political systems of multiple countries, causing suspensions of legislative activities, isolations or deaths of multiple politicians, and rescheduling of elections due to fears of spreading the virus.
Starting in late May, large-scale protests against police brutality in at least 200 U.S. cities and later worldwide in response to the killing of George Floyd raised concerns of a resurgence of the virus.
Although they have broad support among epidemiologists, social distancing measures have been politically controversial in many countries.
Intellectual opposition to social distancing has come primarily from writers of other fields, although there are a few heterodox epidemiologists.
On 23 March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres issued an appeal for a global ceasefire in response to the pandemic; 172 UN Member States and Observers signed a non-binding statement in support of the appeal in June, and the UN Security Council passed a resolution supporting it in July.
Further information: China–United States relations § COVID-19
A number of provincial-level administrators of the Communist Party of China were dismissed over their handling of the quarantine measures in China, a sign of discontent with their response to the outbreak.
The U.S. says China intentionally under-reported its number of coronavirus cases. intelligence community
The Chinese government maintains it has acted swiftly and transparently.
In early March, the Italian government criticised the European Union's lack of solidarity with coronavirus-affected Italy—Maurizio Massari, Italy's ambassador to the EU, said "only China responded bilaterally", not the EU.
On 22 March, after a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Russian president Vladimir Putin had the Russian army send military medics, disinfection vehicles, and other medical equipment to Italy.
Russia also sent a cargo plane with medical aid to the United States.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "when offering assistance to U.S. colleagues, [Putin] assumes that when U.S. manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary."
The outbreak prompted calls for the United States to adopt social policies common in other wealthy countries, including universal health care, universal child care, paid sick leave, and higher levels of funding for public health.
Political analysts believe it may have contributed to Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election.
Beginning in mid-April 2020, there were protests in several U.S. states against government-imposed business closures and restricted personal movement and association.
In early October 2020, Donald Trump and many other government officials were diagnosed with COVID-19, further disrupting the country's politics.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament's general secretary Kate Hudson criticised the exercise, saying "it jeopardises the lives not only of the troops from the U.S. and the many European countries participating but the inhabitants of the countries in which they are operating."
The Iranian government has been heavily affected by the virus, with about two dozen parliament members and fifteen current or former political figures infected.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani wrote a public letter to world leaders asking for help on 14 March 2020, saying they were struggling to fight the outbreak due to a lack of access to international markets from the United States sanctions against Iran.
Diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea worsened due to the pandemic.
South Korea criticised Japan's "ambiguous and passive quarantine efforts" after Japan announced anyone coming from South Korea would be placed in quarantine for two weeks at government-designated sites.
Some countries have passed emergency legislation in response to the pandemic.
Some commentators have expressed concern that it could allow governments to strengthen their grip on power.
In the Philippines, lawmakers granted president Rodrigo Duterte temporary emergency powers during the pandemic.
In Hungary, the parliament voted to allow the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, to rule by decree indefinitely, suspend parliament as well as elections, and punish those deemed to have spread false information about the virus and the government's handling of the crisis.
Agriculture and food systems
Further information: COVID-19 pandemic-related famines
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted agricultural and food systems worldwide.
COVID-19 hit at a time when hunger or undernourishment was once again on the rise in the world, with an estimated 690 million people already going hungry in 2019.
Based on the latest UN estimates, the economic recession triggered by the pandemic may lead to another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, going hungry in 2020.
This is mainly due to a lack of access to food – linked to falling incomes, lost remittances and, in some cases, a rise in food prices.
In countries that already suffer from high levels of acute food insecurity, it is no longer an issue of access to food alone, but increasingly also one of food production.
The pandemic, alongside lockdowns and travel restrictions, has prevented movement of aid and greatly impacted food production.
As a result, several famines are forecast, which the United Nations called a crisis "of biblical proportions," or "hunger pandemic."
It is estimated that without intervention 30 million people may die of hunger, with Oxfam reporting that "12,000 people per day could die from COVID-19 linked hunger" by the end of 2020.
This pandemic, in conjunction with the 2019–20 locust infestations and several ongoing armed conflicts, is predicted to form the worst series of famines since the Great Chinese Famine, affecting between 10 and 20 percent of the global population in some way.
55 countries are reported to be at risk, with three dozen succumbing to crisis-level famines or above in the worst-case scenario.
265 million people are forecast to be in famine conditions, an increase of 125 million due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Main article: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education
Other health issues
Main article: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on other health issues
Environment and climate
Main article: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the environment
Xenophobia and racism
Since the start of the outbreak, heightened prejudice, xenophobia, and racism have been documented around the world toward people of Chinese and East Asian descent.
Reports from February (when most cases were confined to China) documented racist sentiments expressed in groups worldwide about Chinese people 'deserving' the virus.
Chinese people and other Asian in the United Kingdom and United States have reported increasing levels of racist abuse and assaults.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been criticised for referring to the coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus" and "Kung Flu", which has been widely condemned as racist and xenophobic.
Following the progression of the outbreak to new hotspot countries, people from Italy (the first country in Europe to experience a serious outbreak of COVID-19) were also subjected to suspicion and xenophobia, as were people from hotspots in other countries.
Discrimination against Muslims in India escalated after public health authorities identified an Islamic missionary (Tablighi Jamaat) group's gathering in New Delhi in early March 2020 as a source of spread.
Paris has seen riots break out over police treatment of ethnic minorities during the coronavirus lockdown.
South Korea's LGBTQ community was blamed by some for the spread of COVID-19 in Seoul.
In China, some people of African descent were evicted from their homes and told to leave China within 24 hours, due to disinformation that they and other foreigners were spreading the virus.
This racism and xenophobia was criticised by foreign governments and diplomatic corps and the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe.
Ongoing COVID-19 research is indexed and searchable in the NIH COVID-19 Portfolio.
Some newspaper agencies removed their online paywalls for some or all of their coronavirus-related articles and posts, while scientific publishers made scientific papers related to the outbreak available with open access.
Main article: Misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Emerging infectious disease
- Globalisation and disease
- List of epidemics and pandemics
- Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19 pandemic.