The global tally for confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 2 million on Wednesday, just four months after it was first detected in China.
A tally kept by Johns Hopkins University placed the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday morning at 2,000,984 worldwide, with at least 128,071 deaths.
More than half a million people worldwide have recovered.
However, the figures understate the true size of the crisis, in part because of limited testing and concealment by some governments.
The United States remains the hardest-hit country by the virus, with more than 609,000 confirmed infections and at least 26,059 deaths attributed to the virus in all 50 states. The majority of the cases and deaths have occurred in New York, which is considered the country’s epicenter.
The number of cases and deaths in parts of Europe continues to increase, with Spain recording 523 new deaths attributed to the virus in the past 24 hours.
Spanish health officials said 5,092 new infections – or a 3 percent day-to-day increase – brought the total of confirmed cases to 177,633. The country’s overall death toll stood at 18,579, the world’s third-worst behind the U.S. and Italy.
Italy, Spain and France have more than 55,000 virus-linked deaths among them, according to Johns Hopkins.
China, where the virus was first detected in its southern city of Wuhan, has reported 83,355 confirmed cases and at least 3,346 deaths attributed to the virus. However, international experts have questioned the credibility of the tallies.
“China’s Communist Party promotes the belief that the Chinese people are superior to all others on the planet,” foreign affairs expert Gordon Chang told Fox News this week. “Beijing’s unbelievably low reports of new coronavirus cases and deaths support this notion of a superior race.”
An investigation by The Associated Press found that six days of delays by China in alerting the public to the growing dangers of the virus in mid-January set the stage for the pandemic that has upended the lives of billions and crippled the global economy.
Meanwhile, governments around the world are mulling tentatively easing lockdown restrictions in an effort to kickstart their economies and dampen the pandemic’s impact.
However, they are being met with some resistance, with shoppers and other customers staying away from the reopened businesses and workers afraid the newly restored freedoms could put their health at risk.
Marie Froehlich, who owns a clothing store in downtown Vienna, Austria, said her staff was happy to get back to work after weeks of being cooped up at home. But with her business depending largely on tourism, which has dried up amid the travel restrictions, she expects it will take months to return to normal.
“Until then, we are in crisis mode,” she said.