The novel coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, China and has since made its way around the world. The global pandemic has caused deaths, economies to buckle, countries to shut down and much more. Here is a timeline of events, beginning with China’s initial cover-up of the virus.
Nov. 17, 2019: ‘Patient Zero’ Is Reportedly Identified By The Chinese Government
“Patient Zero,” believed to be a 55-year-old from the Hubei province, is reportedly identified, according to Chinese government data. The information was reviewed by South China Morning Post. Rumors start to appear on Chinese social media, which suggests Chinese officials knew of the strange virus early.
Dec. 10, 2019: Wei Guixian, A Seafood Merchant In Wuhan, China, Goes To Local Clinic Because She Feels Ill
Wei, 57, begins to feel ill. She visits a local clinic but then goes home.
Dec. 12, 2019: Wei Rushes To The Hospital After Her Symptoms Worsen
She is sent home with medicine as the doctor believes it is likely bronchitis. Wei later goes to a private clinic for additional antibiotics, none of which work.
Dec. 16, 2019: Wei Admitted To Hospital, Barely Conscious Days Later
Doctors struggle for weeks connecting her illness with others (many of whom were local vendors) in Wuhan.
Dec. 21, 2019: At Least Three Dozen Are Now Showing Symptoms Compatible With The Novel Coronavirus
A study from China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that numerous people are now showing symptoms. These individuals later either tested positive for the coronavirus or were believed to have had it.
Dec. 27, 2019: Chinese Officials Learn That The Mysterious Illness Is Caused By A New Novel Coronavirus
Dr. Zhang Jixian informs health officials in China that the mysterious illnesses are caused by a new virus. More than 180 individuals are now believed to be infected with the novel coronavirus. (RELATED: Intelligence Reports Warned Of Coronavirus Pandemic Long Before Trump Admin Took It Seriously)
Dec. 29, 2019: A Chinese Doctor Informs Leadership Of Possible Contagious Disease
Dr. Ai Fen, who works at Wuhan Central, informs her superiors that there is a potentially contagious disease. China’s CDC’s district office is informed and reportedly confirms that they have received other notices from other areas in Wuhan, China.
Dec. 30, 2019: A Doctor In Wuhan Posts Information About The Virus On WeChat And Is Taken In For Questioning
Li Wenliang spreads information about the novel coronavirus online in a group chat. Authorities take him in for questioning and reprimand him for trying to warn others about the virus. Li ends up dying from the novel coronavirus.
Dec. 31, 2019: Chinese Authorities Say They Are Investigating ‘Viral Pneumonia’
These are the first official reports of the outbreak. Chinese authorities say they are looking into 30 cases of viral pneumonia.
Dec. 31, 2019: China Informs The World Health Organization (WHO)
Dec. 31, 2019: Taiwan Reportedly Raises Concerns To WHO Over Human-To-Human Transmission
Taiwan reports concerns that the virus is highly infectious to the International Health Regulations, a WHO framework.
Jan. 01, 2019: A Wuhan Market Is Closed By Health Officials
China’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan closes and live-animal trade and consumption is banned at all markets. Experts believe the virus resulted from the transfer via live animals to humans.
Jan. 01, 2019: Multiple Doctors Are Questioned After Posting About The Virus On WeChat
Eight people are brought in for questioning by the Wuhan Public Security Bureau in China for posting “rumors” about Wuhan hospitals receiving cases that mimicked SARS.
Jan. 01, 2019: An Official Orders Labs Looking Into The Virus To Stop Testing
Labs have already figured out that the novel coronavirus is similar to SARS. The official, who works at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission, orders labs to stop testing and destroy samples of the virus.
Jan. 01, 2020: Ai Fen Is Reprimanded For ‘Spreading Rumors’ Among Her Hospital Staff
Ai again informs hospital authorities about the virus and orders her department to wear masks when treating patients. The discipline department reprimands her for “spreading rumors” and accuse her of damaging “the stability” of Wuhan.
Jan. 02, 2020: China Maps The Coronavirus Genome
Researchers determine the new virus’s complete genetic information.
Jan. 07, 2020: China’s General Secretary Becomes Involved In Country Response
Xi Jinping says that he began giving instructions to fight the virus on this day.
Jan. 09, 2020: China Announces Publicly It Has Mapped Coronavirus’s Genome
This is the first time this information is made public, although China first mapped the genome on Jan. 02. There are now 59 cases of known coronavirus. The genome is uploaded onto a publicly available genetic data repository, allowing scientists to begin testing and confirming the virus in others.
Jan. 11, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2020: Communist Party Of China Holds Meeting In Wuhan
The Wuhan Health Commission denies any additional cases during this time.
Jan. 13, 2020: First Reported Coronavirus Case Outside Of China
Thailand announces its first known case of the novel coronavirus, meaning it has officially spread outside of China.
Jan. 14, 2020: World Health Organization Claims There’s ‘No Evidence’ Of Human-To-Human Transmission
WHO relies on China for this information. The organization repeats claims from China that there is “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.” This announcement comes weeks after Taiwan says it raised concerns to WHO that the virus could easily be transmitted human-to-human.
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China????????. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Jan. 15, 2020: The Patient With The First Confirmed Case In US Leaves China
This patient leaves China and enters the United States while carrying the novel coronavirus. This person will later be identified as the first known patient to have the novel coronavirus in America.
Jan. 16, 2020: Japan Has Its First Novel Coronavirus Case
The country’s health ministry reports a confirmed case. The sick person had previously been in Wuhan, China.
Jan. 17, 2020: Second Death In Wuhan Because Of The Virus
As China confirms its second death, the U.S. announces three airports will begin screening passengers arriving from Wuhan.
Jan. 18, 2020: Wuhan Health Commission Announces New Cases
Almost immediately after the days-long meeting in China, during which the commission denied any new cases, it admits that there are four new people with the virus.
Jan. 20, 2020: First Cases In South Korea And United States
Jan. 20, 2020: Chinese Doctor Says Virus Can Be Passed By People
Zhong Nanshan announces that the virus can be transferred via human-t0-human contact. Less than a week earlier, WHO had repeated claims from China denying this.
Jan. 22, 2020: Death Toll In China Skyrockets
Over 17 people are now dead because of the virus. The country has over 550 cases.
Jan. 23, 2020: Four Cities In China Are Put Into Lockdown
Wuhan, Xiantao and Chibi are put into lockdown. Meanwhile, around five million people leave the city without being checked for the virus.
Jan. 23, 2020: WHO Says Outbreak Isn’t International Health Emergency
Despite lockdowns in numerous cities in China and their quickly increasing confirmed case numbers, WHO says the outbreak is not a public health emergency of international concern. It adds that the extent of human-to-human transmission is still unclear.
Jan. 24, 2020: China Expands Its Lockdown
The lockdown now covers at least 36 million people in China. The country begins to quickly build a new hospital. Twenty six people are now dead and there are over 830 infected. One day later, the country even further expands lockdown to include 56 million people and the virus continues to infect and kill more people in the next few days.
Jan. 27, 2020: Wuhan Mayor Admits He Was Not Allowed To Disclose The Pandemic
Mayor Zhou Xianwang says during a state-media interview that his superiors ordered him not to disclose the pandemic to the public earlier.
Jan. 30, 2020: WHO Announces Global Emergency
After weeks of reports that the virus is continuing to spread, a global emergency is declared. The death toll in China is now sitting at 170 people and there are over 7,000 reported cases across the country. India and the Philippines confirm its first cases.
Jan. 30, 2020: Trump Announces Coronavirus Task Force
The task force is led by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Its aim is to keep Americans informed of the novel coronavirus and oversee “efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus.” There are five confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.
Jan. 31, 2020: Trump Announces Travel Ban On China
Trump announces a travel ban on China because of the virus, a move that sparks backlash from many. Media outlets pile on Trump, finding experts to explain why the decision is unnecessary. Trump also announces Americans returning from the country may be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival.
Took a break to read back and see how the media covered Trump’s 1/31 announcement barring entry into the U.S. from China and HOO BOY…
Many in the scientific community beclowned themselves because their hatred for Trump blinded them—and does to this day. pic.twitter.com/QjF8zfkCB0
— Lyndsey Fifield (@lyndseyfifield) March 19, 2020
Jan. 31, 2020: Wuhan’s Communist Party Chief Admits Fault For The Virus’s Spread
Ma Guoqiang, one of the Wuhan mayor’s superiors, says during a state media interview that he failed to take “strict, preventive measures earlier.” He adds that he is “in a state of guilt, shame and self-reproach.”
Feb. 01, 2020: A YouTube Video Appears To Document The Dead In China
Fang Bin, a clothing salesman in Wuhan, China, uploads a video to YouTube from a hospital. He describes the coronavirus outbreak and speaks about the dead bodies he saw. Fang disappears less than two weeks later.
Feb. 02, 2020: First Reported Death From Virus Outside Of China
The Philippines announces that a man is now dead because of the virus. The infected person was from Wuhan, China.
Feb. 02, 2020: WHO Tells People How To Properly Refer To The Virus After Pushback From China And Media
WHO says that people shouldn’t “attach locations or ethnicity to the disease” after media bashes Trump for referring to the virus by where it originated. Many media pundits who are now reprimanding those using the terms “Chinese Virus” or “Wuhan Virus” are the same ones who previously used it themselves.
DO – talk about people “acquiring” or “contracting” #COVID19
DON’T – talk about people “transmitting COVID-19” “infecting others” or “spreading the virus” as it implies intentional transmission & assigns blame https://t.co/yShiCMfYF3#coronavirus pic.twitter.com/RLfFIvrlo5
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 2, 2020
Feb. 03, 2020: Chinese President Gives A Speech Indicating He Knew Of The Virus While The Country Downplayed It
This speech is published by state media Feb. 15. President Xi Jinping indicates that he knew of the novel coronavirus threat in early January, which correlates with the time Wuhan officials were trying to publicly downplay its severity.
Feb. 03, 2020: A Cruise Ship Is Quarantined At A Dock In Japan
Thousands on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Japan, are quarantined. 175 will ultimately show symptoms of the novel coronavirus.
Feb. 07, 2020: Doctor Brought In For Questioning In January Dies
Li, the Chinese whistleblower, is dead because of the novel coronavirus after trying to warn others about it.
Feb. 08, 2020: American Dies In China
An American citizen dies from the virus while in Wuhan, China.
Feb. 09, 2020: A WHO Team Heads To China
The organization sends an investigative team with experts to China because of the virus. At least 811 people are now dead in China, which is more than the SARS-outbreak in 2002-2003.
Feb. 13, 2020: Japan Announces Mandatory Quarantine For Foreigners
Foreign visitors and anyone believed to have the novel coronavirus must be quarantined for one month, Korean Central News Agency reports.
Feb. 14, 2020: Chinese Journalists Push Back On Claims That The Country’s Cases Are Improving
A New York Times report indicates that multiple journalists writing for state-run papers in China are resisting the country’s claims about the virus. Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping has been censoring news reports, harassing journalists and shutting down various news websites.
Feb. 16, 2020: Chinese State-Run Press Appears To Bash Trump For Calling It The ‘Chinese Virus’
Xinhua News tweets that “Racism is not the right tool to cover your own incompetence” after Trump calls the novel coronavirus the “Chinese Virus” in a tweet March 16.
Racism is not the right tool to cover your own incompetence pic.twitter.com/LmGDyPsULt
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) March 17, 2020
Feb. 19, 2020: Iran Begins Its Outbreak
The novel coronavirus outbreak spreads to Iran.
Feb. 20, 2020: Russia Bans Entry For Chinese Citizens
Following Trump’s move, the country implements a travel ban. This ban extends to all Chinese citizens.
Feb. 21, 2020: Italy Begins Its Outbreak
The novel coronavirus outbreak begins in Italy.
Feb. 23, 2020: Countries Begin To Close Borders
Turkey and Pakistan temporarily close its borders with Iran because of the virus.
Feb. 25, 2020: Chinese Reporter Claims Term “China Coronavirus” Is Racist And That China Has “Contained” Spread Of The Virus
Olivia Zang, a reporter for Chinese outlet Caixin, is shut down by Azar during a press conference about America’s response to the outbreak. Zang suggested Trump’s terminology for the term is xenophobic. She added that China has “contained” the virus within its borders.
Feb. 27, 2020: Number Of Worldwide Cases Jumps
There are now over 82,000 cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide and over 2,800 known deaths.
Feb. 28, 2020: U.S. Announces ‘Do Not Travel Warning’ For Parts Of Italy, South Korea
This is the highest-level warning and is implemented the parts of Italy and South Korea most affected by the novel coronavirus. All travel to Iran is banned and foreign citizens who have visited the country within 14 days are barred entry from the U.S.
Feb. 29, 2020: First Person In America Dies
America reports its first death from the novel coronavirus today.
March 08, 2020: Italy Locks Down
Italy orders a lockdown for all 60 million residents. Saudi Arabia locks down a part of the country, too.
March 11, 2020: WHO Declares The Novel Coronavirus A Global Pandemic
This comes over a month after announcing the virus is a global emergency.
March 11, 2020: Trump Expands Travel Ban To European Countries
The president announces a travel ban from 26 European countries.
March 12, 2020: Chinese Official Blames U.S. For Outbreak
Lijian Zhao, deputy director of China’s Foreign Ministry Information Department, suggests in a tweet that the U.S. introduced the virus into Wuhan. Twitter has repeatedly refused to take the tweet down.
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
March 13, 2020: A National Emergency Is Declared In America
Trump issues a U.S. national emergency as the global pandemic spreads across America.
March 14, 2020: Trump Expands Travel Ban
Trump announces additional travel restrictions, including the U.K. and Ireland in the already extensive European ban. Trump adds that he is considering implementing restrictions within the U.S.
March 16, 2020: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Orders Closures
De Blasio orders all bars, theaters and cinemas to shut down because of the virus. The number of confirmed cases around the world continues to climb.
March 19, 2020: Italy Reportedly Overtakes China In Number Of Cases
Italy says the death toll in the country is at 3,405. China alleges that its death toll is at 3,245.
March 19, 2020: Almost All U.S. States Have Issued A State Of Emergency
Almost every state in the country has begun taking precautions and announcing closures because of the virus.
March 20, 2020: WHO Announces 100,000 More Cases In Less Than Two Weeks
WHO announces that there are 100,000 more cases worldwide of people who are infected with the virus in just 12 days. There are now 210,000 cases worldwide.
March 21, 2020: FDA Approves Use Of Coronavirus Test Able To Give Results In 45 Minutes
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announces that it has approved the use of a novel coronavirus test that is able to give results within 45 minutes.
March 22, 2020: Worldwide Novel Coronavirus Cases Exceed 300,000
Over 300,000 people around the world have now contracted the novel coronavirus. There are over 14,000 deaths worldwide, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. Over 95,000 have recovered worldwide.
March 22, 2020: Senate Fails To Pass Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
The Senate fails to pass a phase-three coronavirus stimulus bill after internal disputes between both Democrats and Republicans. The bill aims to give $1,200 to every American making less than $75,000. Couples would get $2,400 and chidden would receive $500.
March 23, 2020: Senate Again Fails To Pass Coronavirus Stimulus Bill
The Senate fails for a second day in a row to pass phase-three of the coronavirus stimulus bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that she will push her own coronavirus package, which would delay proceedings.