When did coronavirus start?

A Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The outbreak of the virus, which began in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 14.7 million people. At least 610,200 people have died.

The coronavirus, which surfaced in a Chinese seafood and poultry market late last year, has spread to at least 177 countries, killing more than 610,200 and sickening more than 14.7 million in a matter of months. The World Health Organization has declared the situation a pandemic.

Here’s a timeline of the outbreak so far.

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DEC. 31

On Dec. 31, the government in Wuhan, China, confirmed that health authorities were treating dozens of cases. Days later, researchers in China identified a new virus that had infected dozens of people in Asia. At the time, there was no evidence that the virus was readily spread by humans. Health officials in China said they were monitoring it to prevent the outbreak from developing into something more severe.

JAN. 11

On Jan. 11, Chinese state media reported the first known death from an illness caused by the virus, which had infected dozens of people. The 61-year-old man who died was a regular customer at the market in Wuhan. The report of his death came just before one of China’s biggest holidays, when hundreds of millions of people travel across the country.

JAN. 20

The first confirmed cases outside mainland China occurred in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, according to the W.H.O.’s first situation report. The first confirmed case in the United States came the next day in Washington State, where a man in his 30s developed symptoms after returning from a trip to Wuhan.

July 13 – July 19

The United States on July 13 has added more than 56,000 new coronavirus cases, including at least 15,000 in the state of Florida, pushing the nationwide total to 3.3 million cases, with more than 135,000 deaths.  

On July 14, the WHO has warned the pandemic could get far worse if countries around the world do not follow basic healthcare precautions. Meanwhile Hong Kong is set to impose its toughest restricting measures after authorities warned the risk of a large-scale outbreak was extremely high.

On July 15, researchers in the US said that the first vaccine tested in the country had worked to boost patients’ immune systems and is set for final testing. This is as the number of cases nationwide rose by 65,682 for a total of 3.45 million. 

July 6 – July 12

On July 6, India overtook Russia with the world’s third-highest number of novel coronavirus cases, at nearly 700,000.

On July 7, lockdown measures were reimposed in Australia’s second biggest city, confining Melbourne residents to their homes unless undertaking essential business for six weeks. 

The United States on July 8 officially notified the United Nations secretary-general of the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization even as it grapples with nearly three million cases of coronavirus.

On July 10 Hong Kong will close all schools after the territory reported a spike in locally transmitted COVID-19 infections. Meanwhile in northern Syria, the first coronavirus case has been confirmed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on July 11 reported a record daily increase in global coronavirus cases, with the total rising by 228,102 in 24 hours.

June 29 – July 5

The US health secretary Alex Azar warned the “window is closing” for decisive action to curb the virus as cases there surge.

In Pakistan, the number of coronavirus cases passed the 200,000 mark after 3,602 new infections were reported.

Australia’s second most populous state said on June 29 that it is considering reimposing social distancing restrictions after the country reported its biggest one-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more than two months.

Propelled by Victoria state reporting 75 cases, Australia recorded 85 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, its biggest daily outbreak since April 11.

On June 30, more than 10.3 million people around the world had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, more than 5.2 million had recovered, and more than 505,000 had died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the pandemic is “not even close to being over” and while there had been some progress initially, it was “actually speeding up”. 

On July 3, India reported a single-day record for new COVID-19 cases with more than 20,903 infections, taking the country’s toll to 625,000. The total number of deaths surpassed 18,000.

On July 4, Brazil passed 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases, as cities reopened bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

Spain’s Catalonia region placed restrictions on 200,000 people amid surge in new coronavirus cases. And people in England will be allowed to visit pubs, restaurants or get a haircut for the first time in more than three months as restrictions ease.

July 5 marked a rise in coronavirus infections in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia after curfews were fully lifted last month.

WHO said that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 after the medications failed to reduce mortality.

June 22 – 28 

On June 23, UNESCO said the pandemic has only exacerbated conditions that has left nearly 260 million children excluded from school in 2018, and urged governments to do more to help the most disadvantaged.

Saudi Arabia announced on June 24 that it will limit the number of domestic pilgrims attending the Hajj to around 1,000 after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first year in modern times.

On the same day, Germany ordered two new lockdowns for the entire districts of Warendorf and Guetersloh after a coronavirus outbreak at a slaughterhouse infected more than 1,500 workers. 

On June 25, the number of coronavirus cases in the Gulf region surpassed 400,000. Meanwhile across the US, hospitalisations and caseloads have reached new highs in more than half a dozen states, with newly confirmed cases nationwide back near their peak level of two months ago.

United States Vice President Mike Pence on June 26 announced that 16 states are seeing an increase in cases of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.the pandemic was getting worse globally, with the number of infections expected to reach 10 million next week. 

On July 27, the European Union announced plans to bar travellers from the United States, Brazil and Russia due to a continued surge in infections in the three countries.

On July 28, the death toll from the new coronavirus neared 500,000 people, while the number of cases worldwide exceeded 10 million.

June 15 – 21

On June 15, China moved to mass testing in the capital, Beijing, after a spike in cases connected to a major wholesale food market.

A number of European nations, including France, Germany, Greece and Switzerland, reopened their borders to fellow Europeans.

On June 16, in what scientists and the WHO hailed as a “breakthrough”, a cheap and widely used steroid dexamethasone became the first drug found to dramatically reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19. 

Neighbours India and Pakistan saw the deadliest day of the pandemic on June 17, with more than 2,000 deaths in India and 140 in Pakistan. 

On June 18, Indonesia reported 1,331 new coronavirus infections, its biggest daily increase since the outbreak started locally, taking its total number of cases to 42,762.

The World Health Organization announced that testing of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in its large multi-country trial of treatments for COVID-19 patients had been halted after new data and studies showed no benefit.

On June 19 WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the 150,000 new cases recorded on June 18 was the highest number reported in a single day, as the global pandemic accelerated.

Spain on June 21 reopened its borders to most European countries, as well as Britain, as the coronavirus state of emergency ends. Spaniards were also allowed to move freely around the country from Sunday.

Worldwide, at least 8.85 million people were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, more than 4.3 million have recovered, and more than 465,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

June 8 – 14

On June 8, data from Johns Hopkins University showed that more than seven million people were confirmed to have the coronavirus with at least 406,900 dying from the disease.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said the country no longer had any active cases of coronavirus.

On June 9, a Harvard Medical School research report suggested that the coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as August 2019.

On June 10, a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the pandemic had triggered the worst global recession in nearly a century even without a second wave of infections. 

The number of US cases on June 11surpassed two million, while the death toll exceeded 110,000. Meanwhile, vaccine developer Moderna announced plans to trial its vaccine on 30,000 people in July. 

Beijing on June 12 reported its first instance of local transmission in weeks – a 52-year-old man who said he had not left the Chinese capital for more than two weeks and had not been in contact with anyone from outside the city.

June 1 – 7

On June 1, Moscow partially eased a tough lockdown following a fall in novel coronavirus cases for the first time in nine weeks, while the UK was also preparing to relax its lockdown despite concerns among the government’s scientific advisory body.

Greece also lifted lockdown restrictions for hotels, open-air cinemas, golf courses and public swimming pools.

On June 2, Africa’s coronavirus cases surpassed 150,000 as more than 4,300 deaths were confirmed across the continent.

A South African court ruled that certain coronavirus lockdown regulations were “unconstitutional and invalid” after a community group challenged the validity of the government’s response to the pandemic last month.

Italy reopened its borders for travellers from Europe on June 3.

On June 4, Russia’s total number of infections across the country surged past the 440,000 mark, with the death toll also continuing to mount.

At least two US senators accused China of hiding data from the World Health Organization that could have altered the course of the coronavirus outbreak, even as a Chinese official denied delays in sharing information, saying the government acted openly and transparently.

On June 5, India recorded another record single-day spike in cases with more than 9,800 infections, taking the country’s toll to 226,770. The total number of deaths surpassed 6,000.

Following a public backlash, Turkey cancelled a decision to impose a new, two-day weekend curfew in 15 of the country’s hardest-hit provinces and cities. 

On June 6, the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its position on face masks and encouraged people to wear them in crowded places.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro threatened to pull his country out of the WHO, accusing the body of being “partisan” and “political”.

On June 7, the global death toll from the coronavirus surged past 400,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. About 30 percent of those cases, or two million infections, were in the US.

May 25 – 31

Japan lifted a nationwide state of emergency over the coronavirus on May 25, gradually reopening the world’s third-largest economy as government officials warned caution was still necessary to prevent another wave.

The world reached a grim milestone on May 26 as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed the 5.5 million mark. 

On May 27, the United States became the first country to reach a six-figure death toll, as the number of people killed from the coronavirus surpassed 100,000. On the same day, Spain began a 10-day official mourning period in memory of the more than 27,000 people who lost their lives to the virus in the country. 

US President Donald Trump announced on May 29 that the US was “terminating” its relationship with the WHO, saying the agency has not made coronavirus reforms.

On May 31, Latin America’s death toll surged past the 50,000 mark and cases neared one million, with countries such as Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru struggling to stem the tide.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a third member of a scientific advisory body to the government warned that it was too soon to lift the COVID-19 lockdown because the test and trace system was not yet fully operational.

May 18 – 24

On May 19, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised an independent review of the global pandemic response, after countries at a virtual meeting of the World Health Assembly called for a probe.

On the same day in the UK, unemployment claims jumped from 856,000 people to 2.1 million as the pandemic took hold and hit the labour market.

The number of coronavirus cases worldwide reached the five million mark on May 21, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. The United States, Russia and Brazil stood as the countries with the highest number of infections. 

Chinese authorities registered on May 23 zero new infections of coronavirus for the first time since they began reporting data in January. About 80 million infants could be at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio due to disruption of routine immunisation caused by the pandemic, UN agencies have warned.

On May 24 Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr with millions under strict stay-at-home orders and many fearing renewed coronavirus outbreaks. Meanwhile, Russia recorded its highest death toll since the pandemic began, with 153 news deaths bringing the total to 3,541 among 344,481 cases.

May 11 – 17 

Saudi Arabia said on May 11 it would impose tough austerity measures by tripling its Value Added Tax from 5 percent to 15 percent, in addition to halting monthly handout payments to citizens in order to cope with record low oil prices and a coronavirus-led economic slump.

On May 14, The United Nations predicted the coronavirus pandemic would shrink the world economy by 3.2 percent this year, the sharpest contraction since the Great Depression in the 1930s, pushing an estimated 34.3 million people into extreme poverty, mostly in Africa.

Officials confirmed on May 15 the first coronavirus infection of a Rohingya refugee in the sprawling camps in southern Bangladesh.

On May 16, India’s coronavirus cases surpassed China’s with the health ministry reporting 85,940 infections and 2,752 deaths. The worst-hit Indian states are Maharashtra with 29,100 cases, Tamil Nadu 10,108, Gujarat 9,931 and New Delhi 8,895. India extended a nearly two-month-old stringent lockdown by another two weeks.

Former US President Barack Obama criticised the country’s leaders on May 17 for their handling of the coronavirus response, telling college graduates in an online commencement address that the pandemic shows many officials “aren’t even pretending to be in charge”.

May 4 – 10 

On May 5, the United Kingdom recorded the highest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe, with more than 30,000 people dead.

In a reversal from earlier statements, US President Donald Trump said on May 7 that the emergency task force handling his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak will not be wound down, and will instead continue its work “indefinitely”.

The WHO warned on May 8, that 83,000 to 190,000 people in Africa could be killed by the coronavirus disease in the first year and infect between 29 million and 44 million during that period if it is not contained.

On May 10, both China and South Korea reported new spikes in coronavirus cases, with Seoul recording 34 new cases – its biggest single-day jump in about a month.

April 27 – May 3 

The number of US cases surpassed on April 28 one million, a third of global infections, while the death toll exceeded 57,000. 

On April 29, Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir proved effective against the new coronavirus in a major study, shortening the time it takes for patients to recover by four days on average, according to US government and company officials. The news came as the US economy took its hardest hit since the height of the Great Recession, with its GDP contracting 4.8 percent in the first quarter of the year. 

More than 30 million people in the US filed claims on April 30 for jobless benefits since the beginning of coronavirus-related lockdowns. Meanwhile, the eurozone’s economy shrunk by 3.8 percent in the first quarter, the biggest hit since records began in 1995.

On May 3, Afghanistan’s health ministry raised the alarm over the spread of the new coronavirus after a small study with random tests in Kabul suggested that about a third of the capital’s residents could be infected.

April 20 – 26

On April 21, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he “will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

Meanwhile, a report by the UN World Food Programme warned that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could double, jumping to 265 million, because of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, including border closures.

The pandemic is expected to drive carbon dioxide emissions down by six percent this year, the head of the World Meteorological Organization said on April 22, in what would be the biggest yearly drop since World War II.

On April 23, the number of US citizens who filed for first-time unemployment benefits in the five weeks since the start of coronavirus-related lockdowns reached a record 26 million.

The confirmed number of coronavirus-related deaths worldwide on April 25 reached another grim milestone by exceeding the 200,000 threshold.

On the same day, the WHO warned against countries issuing so-called “immunity passports” to those who have recovered from COVID-19, saying there was no scientific evidence to prove that these people develop immunity against potential infection in the future.

On April 26, the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global coronavirus pandemic began, said it had no remaining cases of the infection in its hospitals, with all patients treated for COVID-19 discharged.
Saudi Arabia partially lifted the curfew in all regions of the kingdom while keeping a 24-hour curfew in Mecca and previously isolated neighbourhoods.

April 13 – 19

On April 14, both India and France extended a nationwide lockdown, until May 3 and May 11, respectively. On the same day, Taiwan reported no new cases for the first time in more than a month.

Meanwhile, as known infections worldwide surpassed two million on April 15, the International Monetary Fund said the global economy was expected to shrink by three percent this year – the biggest contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

On April 17, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti said prayers during Ramadan and the subsequent Eid al-Fitr festival should be performed at home if the coronavirus outbreak continues, according to a Saudi newspaper.

Turkey surpassed Iran for the most infections in the Middle East on April 19, as cases there rose to 86,306.

April 6 – 12

On April 6, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was moved into intensive care as his condition worsened after being hospitalised in London with persistent COVID-19 symptoms. He was released from intensive care on April 9 and was discharged from hospital on April 12.

On April 7, Japan declared a state of emergency amid a spike in coronavirus cases, while Singapore began a partial lockdown.

On April 8, Wuhan began allowing people to leave for the first time since the central Chinese city was sealed off 76 days ago to contain the coronavirus that first emerged there late last year. In Singapore, the use of Zoom for online education was suspended after hackers hijacked a lesson and showed obscene images to students.

The UK announced its worst single-day death toll on April 10, with a further 980 people who had contracted coronavirus losing their lives in the 24 hours before Thursday evening.

The US recorded on April 11 a total death toll of 20,071, surpassing Italy’s toll of 19,468. Cases in the US topped 519,000.

March 30 – April 5

On March 31, the number of deaths due to coronavirus in the US surpassed those reported by China, where the new coronavirus was detected late last year. By the end of the week, the US reported more than 4,000 amid more than 300,000 cases.

On April 1, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned the coronavirus pandemic presents the world with its “worst crisis” since World War II as the global total of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached one million and the worldwide death toll topped 50,000.

On April 3, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned governments in the Middle East that they must act quickly to limit the spread of the coronavirus as cases in the region have risen to nearly 60,000 – almost double the tally of a week earlier.

In the United Kingdom, Johnson was taken to a hospital on April 5 after showing persistent symptoms, 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

On the same day, Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, reported a total death toll of 3,603 amid 58,226 cases. However, President Hassan Rouhani said that “low-risk” economic activities would resume from April 11. 

March 23 – 29 

In the US, the White House and Senate leaders of both parties struck an agreement on March 25 on a sweeping $2 trillion measure to aid workers, businesses and a healthcare system strained by pandemic. By the end of the week, the US accounted for the highest number of coronavirus infections in the world, recording more than 124,000 cases and 2,000 deaths, more than double the figure two days before.

Meanwhile, as the number of cases worldwide surpassed 600,000, with more than 27,000 deaths on March 27, India and South Africa joined the countries to impose lockdowns. Kenya, Kazakhstan and Honduras reported their first deaths, while Johnson announced he had tested positive.

In Europe, Spain recorded 838 new coronavirus deaths over the previous 24 hours on March 29, marking the country’s highest daily jump in fatalities. The country was now second only to Italy where the death toll shot past 10,000 with 889 new deaths.

March 16 – 22 

On March 18, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared, for the first time ever,a “human biosecurity emergency” in the country. On the other side of the Pacific ocean, Chile and Guatemala shut down their borders hoping strict measures would curb the spread of the virus. 

But in rare positive news, no new domestic cases were reportedin China for the first time since the start of the outbreak. 

On March 20, coronavirus-related deaths surged past 10,000 globally. More cases were reported in Turkey and Pakistan, while Iran registered a total of 14,991 infections and 853 deaths. 

On March 21, as Europe remained the epicentre of the pandemic, with Italy reporting 4,825 fatalities amid 53,578 cases, the EU took the unprecedented step to suspend rules on public deficits, giving countries free rein to inject spending into the economy as needed.

On March 22, Palestinian officials in the besieged Gaza Strip announced the first two coronavirus cases.

March 9 – 15 

On March 9, Iran released said some 70,000 prisoners had been released because of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, without specifying if or when those freed would need to return to jail.

On March 10, Lebanon and Morocco reported their first deaths from the virus.

In a long-anticipated move, the WHO on March 11 declared on the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, while Turkey, Ivory Coast, Honduras, Bolivia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Panama and Mongolia confirmed their first cases. In Qatar, infections jumped drastically from 24 to 262 in a single day. 

On March 15, Kazakhstan, the Philippines and Austria tightened restrictions in a bid to contain the pandemic.

March 2 – 8 

On March 5, Saudi Arabia announced its first coronavirus case.

China’s Health Commission reported 99 new cases on March 7, down from 143 cases the day before, with a total of 80,651 cases nationwide. Official data showed the country’s exports plunging 17.2 percent in the first two months of the year after the outbreak brought much of the country to a halt.

On Monday 8, Saudi authorities locked down the eastern Qatif region and announced the suspension of all schools and universities across the country until further notice. 

In a sweeping move, Italy imposed a strict quarantine in the state of Lombardy and 14 other areas in the north, affecting a total of 16 million people.

February 24 – March 1 

This week marked the confirmation of first cases in countries across the world, including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Norway, Romania, Greece, Georgia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, North Macedonia, Brazil, Estonia, Denmark, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands, Lithuania and Wales.

On February 25, Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who, a day earlier, had given a press briefing on the outbreak, confirmed he had coronavirus. The country’s official total reached 95 cases with 15 deaths. 

As the number of infections passed 82,000 worldwide on February 27, including more than 2,800 deaths, the US was considering invoking the Defense Production Act which would grant President Donald Trump the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security. 

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