Since then, the virus has disrupted the everyday lives of billions of people around the globe and caused widespread economic damage. More than 33 million cases have been confirmed worldwide and outbreaks continue to plague many countries.
The United States, with more than 7 million cases and more than 205,000 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University data, has been the worst-affected nation overall.
Soaring infection rates
On the other side of the world, India has surpassed 6 million confirmed coronavirus cases, making it the second worst-hit nation globally after the US.
Although the number of reported cases had been steadily increasing since March, India’s epidemic intensified in June, when transmission began increasing at an exponential rate. It took almost six months for India to record 1 million cases on July 17. It added 4 million more in the space of just two months.
Latin America has also seen increasing rates of coronavirus infection, with the number of confirmed cases soaring in recent weeks in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
More than 141,000 people have died with coronavirus in Brazil, the second highest total in the world. Another 76,000 people have lost their lives to the virus in Mexico.
Europe’s second wave
Measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing have become the norm and the latest spread of infection has been primarily among younger people, who are less likely to die if they contract the virus.
But colder weather is beginning to set in and the flu season is approaching. The infection is spreading to older populations, and there are signs that people are growing tired of adhering to the restrictions.
Hospitals are now better able to diagnose and treat the virus, meaning mortality rates for ICU patients in some European countries have dropped from about 50% during the spring to roughly 20%, Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the UK’s University of Southampton, told CNN.
The prospect of 2 million global deaths from Covid-19 is “certainly unimaginable … but it’s not impossible,” Dr. Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, said Friday.
“(If) we look at losing a million people in nine months, and then we just look at the realities of getting a vaccine out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved.”
The virus is proving hard to keep under control even in countries that saw early success in tamping down transmission.
Other governments will hope to avoid following in that path as they battle to keep their populations safe and economies afloat.
CNN’s Emma Reynolds contributed to this report.