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Infections and deaths of major virus outbreaks in the last 50 years as of 2020

In terms of the number of infected people, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) ranked third among ten major virus outbreaks as of the end of January 2020. The virus, which originated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, has since spread to around 215 countries and territories worldwide.

China searching for disease’s origins

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in China topped 89,000 on August 11, 2020. The SARS-CoV-2 virus and the infectious disease it causes were unknown before the outbreak began in China in December 2019. Experts from the World Health Organization are now working with Chinese counterparts to identify the origins of the virus. The most common symptoms reported by Chinese patients were fever, dry cough, and fatigue.

The rapid global spread of the virus

In March 2020, it was estimated that the SARS-CoV-2 virus had an infection rate of between 1.5 and 3.5, which is higher than other outbreaks that have emerged worldwide in the past two decades. According to early estimates in January 2020, the case fatality rate was around two percent, but the spread of the coronavirus has overwhelmed many countries. The case fatality rate in China was as high as 5.5 percent in mid-April 2020.

Confirmed cases and deaths of major virus outbreaks worldwide in the last 50 years as of 2020

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Sources

Release date

January 2020

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

as of January 31, 2020

Supplementary notes

*As of January 31, 2020.
**Between 2009 and 2010.
***As of November 2019.

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