Reported COVID-19 cases around the world approached two million on Monday, doubling in 11 days as World Health Organization officials caution patience before lifting social distancing restrictions.
Covid-19 has infected more than 1,918,855 people around the world and killed at least 119,588 people, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Hopkins’ data previously showed that the cases had passed two million, which the university attributed to an “anomaly in Florida data for Okaloosa that drove a spike from 19,985 to 123,019.” JHU has since corrected the data.
The world knew almost nothing about the virus in December, when reports of a new coronavirus started to surface in Wuhan, China. Since then, it has spread to nearly every country in the world, disrupting daily life for millions under lockdown measures meant to curb the virus’ rapid spread.
Even as the spread of the virus appears to be slowing in several hard-hit countries, including Italy, Spain and the U.S., the WHO on Monday warned against lifting restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus too early.
“While Covid-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s Geneva headquarters on Monday. “That means control measures must be lifted slowly and with control. It cannot happen all at once.”
With 581,679 confirmed cases, infections in the U.S. now account for more than 25% of infections globally, according to Hopkins. The virus has infected more than 195,749 people in New York state alone, Hopkins’ data shows.
U.S. officials and some economists have warned against comparing coronavirus case numbers from country to country due to concerns around reporting methodology. U.S. officials have said the Chinese government is likely under-reporting the number of cases there. Local and state officials in the U.S. have acknowledged that the true number of Covid-19 cases in the country is likely far higher than those that have been confirmed due to testing shortages and restrictions.