The coronavirus, which appeared in a Chinese seafood and poultry market late last year, has spread to 24 countries, killing more than 1,000 and sickening tens of thousands of people in a matter of weeks. The World Health Organization has declared the situation a global health emergency.
Here’s a timeline of what we know so far about the outbreak.
Chinese authorities were treating dozens of pneumonia cases of unknown cause.
On December 31, the government of Wuhan, China, confirmed that health authorities were treating dozens of cases. Days later, researchers in China identified a new virus behind a disease that had infected dozens of people in Asia. At the time, there was no evidence that the virus was easily spread by humans. Health officials in China were monitoring him to make sure the outbreak did not escalate into something more serious.
China reported its first death.
On January 11, Chinese state media reported the first known death from the disease caused by the virus, which had infected dozens of people in China. The 61-year-old man who died was a regular in the Wuhan market, where the disease is believed to have originated, and had previously been found to have abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease. The report of his death came just before one of China’s biggest holidays, when hundreds of millions of people travel across the country.
Other countries, including the United States, confirmed cases.
The first confirmed coronavirus cases outside of mainland China occurred in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, according to the first WHO situation report released on January 20. The first confirmed case in the US occurred the next day in Washington state, where a man in his 30s developed symptoms after returning from a trip to Wuhan.
Wuhan, a city of more than 11 million, was cut off by Chinese authorities.
After Chinese officials urged people not to travel to or from Wuhan, severe travel restrictions were put in place. On January 23, authorities closed Wuhan by canceling planes and trains leaving the city and suspending buses, subways, and ferries. At this point, at least 17 people had died and more than 570 had been infected, including in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the United States.
The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency.
Amid thousands of new cases in China, the WHO officially declared a “public health emergency of international concern” on January 30. The spokeswoman for the country’s Foreign Ministry said China will continue to work with WHO and other countries to protect public health, and the US State Department has warned travelers to avoid China.
Airlines suspended service to China, while the Donald Trump administration restricted entry to the US.
On January 31, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Airlines said they would suspend service, for at least two months, between the United States and mainland China. The Trump administration said it would suspend entry to the U.S. for any foreign nationals who have traveled to China in the past 14 days, excluding immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. By this date, 213 people had died and almost 9,800 had been infected worldwide.
The first death from coronavirus was reported outside of China.
A 44-year-old man in the Philippines died after being infected by the coronavirus, authorities said on February 2. The man’s death was the first reported outside of China. At this point, the number of deaths had risen to more than 360.
Hundreds, mostly Americans, were evacuated from Hubei province.
Some 350 people, mostly Americans, who were evacuated from China’s Hubei province arrived in California on February 5. The group would be held at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego for 14 days, which is the maximum time a person becomes ill after being exposed to the coronavirus. By February 13, the number of coronavirus cases in the US had risen to 15 in seven states.
A cruise ship in Japan quarantined thousands.
On February 5, after a two-week trip to Southeast Asia, more than 3,600 passengers began their 14-day quarantine aboard the Diamond princess Cruise in Yokohama, Japan. Authorities began testing passengers, and the number of people who tested positive became the largest number of coronavirus cases outside of China. As of February 13, the number was 218.
A Chinese doctor who tried to warn others died from the coronavirus.
When Dr. Li Wenliang, a Chinese physician, died on February 7 after contracting the coronavirus, many hailed him as a hero for his attempt to sound the first alarm bells that a cluster of infections could spiral out of control.
In early January, authorities tried to silence him when called by medical officials and police, and he was forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumor. Li’s death sparked anger and frustration at how the Chinese government mishandled the situation by not sharing information early and by silencing whistleblowers.
The death toll in China exceeded the death toll from SARS worldwide.
On February 10, the death toll in China rose to 908, surpassing the global death toll from the SARS epidemic in 2002-03, which killed 774. At this point, the number of confirmed cases of infection in the country it had risen to 40,171. .
The death toll in China has exceeded 1,000.
Chinese authorities said the death toll had reached 1,016, while the number of infections had risen to 42,638 on February 11. A US citizen died in Wuhan, officials said Feb. 8; It was the first known American death.
The Communist Party fired senior officials from Hubei and Wuhan provinces.
The ruling Community Party of China ousted Jiang Chaoliang, party secretary of Hubei province, and Ma Guoqiang, the top official in Wuhan, on February 13 amid widespread public outrage over handling of the outbreak.
There were more than 14,000 new cases in Hubei province.
Authorities added more than 14,840 cases to the total number of infected in Hubei province. That set a daily record, after authorities in Hubei appeared to include infections diagnosed by lung scans of symptomatic patients.
Derrick Bryson Taylor c. 2020 The New York Times Company
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