The virus first appeared in late 2019 in patients hospitalized in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first death was reported on Jan. 11. By the time authorities locked down the city nearly two weeks later, millions of travelers had come and gone. China’s government has come in for criticism that it did not do enough to alert other countries to the threat.
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The virus has forced trade-offs between safety and economic well-being. The choices made have left millions of people vulnerable, especially the poor, minorities and the elderly.
The pandemic’s toll of 1 million dead in such a limited time rivals some of the gravest threats to public health, past and present.
Hans Kluge, the regional director of the World Health Organization (WHO), referred to the surge of coronavirus cases in Europe as a “very serious situation.”