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Global cases of the novel coronavirus surpassed 5 million early Thursday, nearly five months after the first infection was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The virus has now spread to more people in under six months than the total number of severe flu cases each year, which is estimated to infect about three to five million globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The U.S. has recorded the most COVID-19 cases, with more than 1,551,853 total infections and at least 93,439 deaths from the virus.
However, a new phase in the virus’ spread has occurred within the past week, as Latin America recently overtook the U.S. and Europe in having the largest portion of new cases each day.
Brazil — South America’s most populous country — recently surpassed Germany, France, and the United Kingdom to become the third-largest outbreak in the world, behind only the U.S. and Russia, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. They now have more than 291,579 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 18,859 deaths from the virus.
The country had just 125,000 cases as of two weeks ago, which are rising at a pace second only to the U.S.
Latin America accounted for roughly a third of the 91,000 COVID-19 cases reported earlier this week, according to Reuters. Europe and the U.S. each accounted for just over 20 percent.
The coronavirus has now killed at least 328,172 people as of Thursday morning, which is roughly 424 times the amount of people that died during the SARS outbreak back in 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number is likely to be higher due to limited testing in many countries throughout the world.
More than 100,000 COVID-19 cases were reported by the WHO in the previous 24 hours on Wednesday, which was the most in one day since the start of the pandemic.
“We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conference. “We are very concerned about rising cases in low- and middle-income countries.”
Roughly one million new cases are being reported every two weeks, according to Reuters. It took just under three months to reach one million cases after the first death from the virus was reported by state media in Wuhan back on Jan 11.