If there’s one topic that has the entire world’s attention at the moment it’s the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. Originating in China in December, the spread was initially slow, but things have changed dramatically in the weeks since its discovery. Now, with health officials around the world scrambling to respond, the outbreak has crossed a scary new milestone.
As NPR reports, new reports of confirmed viral infections inside China — which have been massive compared to elsewhere in the world in recent weeks — are now being outpaced by reports from outside of the country. That’s an important and potentially frightening development since it could signal a shift from China alone seeing the largest threat from the outbreak to COVID-19 becoming a true worldwide pandemic.
According to the latest tally, there are now at least 81,245 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection around the globe. A live-updating website by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering provides a close-to-realtime list of new cases as they are reported, and the trend isn’t particularly encouraging.
With countries like Italy seeing huge spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been increasing the frequency and intensity of their guidance to the general public. The CDC, in particular, has been extremely blunt in its language, with representatives telling US citizens to expect significant disruption in daily life.
This is obviously a case of “hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” but the CDC is also trying to mitigate any kind of panic. It makes sense to have extra supplies on hand in the event of any kind of emergency, but sparking a panic that would clear store shelves and lead to hoarding isn’t good for anyone.