The United States surpassed 18 million reported COVID-19 cases on Monday, figures from Johns Hopkins University showed, as the virus surges nationwide.

Iran PressAmerica: As of Monday, at least 18.01 million people have been infected with coronavirus, and more than 319,000 people in the US have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The US has the world's highest absolute number of cases as well as the most deaths related to the virus. It had a total of 18,006,061 reported cases on Monday evening, according to the figures.

States and cities have imposed varying levels of restrictions in a bid to slow the virus spread, but outgoing President Donald Trump has repeatedly downplayed its seriousness and urged reopenings.

This is while, a variant of the virus is spreading rapidly in the UK, prompting dozens of travel bans and raising concerns about what this means for the world.

England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned Saturday that the variant "can spread more quickly" and was responsible for 60% of new infections in London.

On Monday, an epidemiologist from the World Health Organization explained why the variant might be infecting more people.

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