The following data come from the excellent Worldometers website. This selection is the basis for the questions on which, at the end of the article, I conclude.
Ranking of countries by number of cases on March 18
The initial panic is explained by the explosion of numbers in China in the Wuhan region.
Every year an estimated 290,000 to 650,000 people die in the world due to complications from seasonal influenza (flu) viruses. This figure corresponds to 795 to 1,781 deaths per day due to the seasonal flu.
SARS (November 2002 to July 2003): was a coronavirus that originated from Beijing, China, spread to 29 countries, and resulted in 8,096 people infected with 774 deaths (fatality rate of 9.6%). Considering that SARS ended up infecting 5,237 people in mainland China, Wuhan Coronavirus surpassed SARS on January 29, 2020, when Chinese officials confirmed 5,974 cases of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). One day later, on January 30, 2020 the novel coronavirus cases surpassed even the 8,096 cases worldwide which were the final SARS count in 2003.
MERS (in 2012) killed 858 people out of the 2,494 infected (fatality rate of 34.4%).
Ranking of countries by number of deaths on March 18
It is confirmed by the explosion of figures in Italy, Iran, Spain, France and now the USA.