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Infection rates of viruses that caused major outbreaks worldwide as of 2020

In March 2020, it was estimated that the infection rate for COVID-19 ranged between 1.5 and 3.5. In comparison, the seasonal flu had an infection rate of 1.3. Data is subject to change due to the developing situation with the coronavirus pandemic.

Rising infection rates could reignite virus

COVID-19 is an infectious disease that continues to threaten different parts of the world simultaneously. The number of positive cases in the United States topped 5.5 million on August 22, 2020, and the potential for new waves of infection remains. In several U.S. states, the infection rate is higher than one, which means each infected person is passing the virus to more than one other person. When an infection rate is less than one, the outbreak will weaken because the viral pathogen is not as widely spread.

The importance of isolation

Someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 can easily spread the virus to others. For this reason, patients are urged to self-isolate for around 14 days. To further reduce the risk of transmission, people who have been in close contact with a positive case should also self-isolate, even if they feel healthy. National testing programs make it easier to track the spread of the virus and are helping to flatten the infection curve. The U.S. had conducted more than 70 million coronavirus tests as of August 24, 2020 – the states of California and New York had performed more than any other.

Infection rates of viruses involved in outbreaks worldwide as of 2020

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Release date

March 2020



Survey time period

as of March 6, 2020

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Statistics on "The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic 2019-20"

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