When COVID first broke out in the US in late March, many feared the virus could wipe out the entire population.
But the world’s largest and most populous country has seen its first death toll.
The US, which has been battling the virus for more than two years, has seen over a quarter of its population infected and more than 500,000 confirmed cases.
As of Thursday, at least 2,723 people had died from COVID in the country, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As a result, the CDC has issued a mandatory public health alert that all hospitals and clinics in the United States must be closed.
In response, more than a million people have already signed up to volunteer to become vaccine carriers, the US government announced Thursday.
It’s not just the US, but several other countries have seen their infections soar.
In Australia, a vaccine shortage has left hospitals scrambling to find supplies.
In Canada, where the outbreak started, health officials have warned people to be on the lookout for outbreaks in the coming weeks.
And in Europe, there are fears that the virus will spread further north, where outbreaks have already occurred in Russia and Sweden.
The CDC has also said it has seen a sharp increase in cases in countries where vaccination rates have been low.
But there’s been little evidence of an epidemic in other countries.
In France, for instance, COVID cases are now down by half.
Even so, the virus continues to ravage the world.
At least 13,000 people have died in the first three months of the year.
The latest figures released on Thursday show the virus has claimed nearly 500 lives in the Middle East and Africa.