Timeline: How the new coronavirus spread | Coronavirus pandemic News
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a pandemic over a new coronavirus which causes an illness known as COVID-19 that has spread to nearly every country.
The disease has killed more than 411,000 people and infected more than 7.2 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. More than 3.3 million people have recovered.
Below is a timeline:
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 has 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 has triggered the worst global recession in nearly a century even without a second wave of infections.
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 is also preparing to relax its lockdown despite concerns among the government’s scientific advisory body.
Greece also has 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 have been 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) has changed its position on face masks and is now encouraging people to wear them in crowded places.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has 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, are 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 reported in 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.
February 17 – 23
On February 19, Iran reported two deaths from the coronavirus, hours after confirming its first cases, while South Korea reported on February 20 its first death from the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, China said the death toll had risen to 2,118 while the total number of cases reached 74,576. The country’s health commission reported daily infections dropped to the lowest in almost a month, a result of authorities only counting cases confirmed by genetic testing in Hubei.
On February 21, Israel reported its first confirmed case after a woman who returned from a cruise ship tested positive.
In Italy, officials confirmed a third death on February 23, while local authorities brought the Venice Carnival to an early close and suspended sports events.
February 10 – 16
As of February 10, China had 908 confirmed deaths and a total of 40,171 infections, prompting President Xi Jinping to appear in public for the first time since the outbreak began, visiting a hospital in the capital, Beijing, and urging confidence in the battle against the virus.
Five days later, a February 3 speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping, published by state media, indicated the government knew about the threat of the virus well before the public alarm was raised.
On February 11, the WHO announced that the disease caused by new coronavirus would be called “COVID-19”. The new coronavirus itself was dubbed SARS-CoV-2.
On February 13, Japan confirmed its first death linked to the virus.
Egypt became the first country in Africa on February 14, to report a case and France reported Europe’s first death from the virus. On February 16, Taiwan reported its first death.
February 3 – 9
On February 6, authorities in Malaysia reported the country’s first known human-to-human transmission while the number of people infected in Europe reached 30.
On February 7, Li Wenliang, a doctor who was among the first to sound the alarm over the coronavirus in China, died, and Hong Kong introduced prison sentences for anyone breaching quarantine rules.
On February 9, the death toll in China surpassed that of the 2002-03 SARS epidemic, with 811 deaths recorded and 37,198 infections. An investigative team led by experts from the WHO departed for China.
January 27 – February 2
On January 30, the WHO declared the coronavirus a global emergency as the death toll in China jumped to 170, with 7,711 cases reported in the country, where the virus had spread to all 31 provinces. By the end of the week, China reported 304 deaths amid 14,380 infections.
Within a few days, new cases were confirmed in India, Philippines, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the US, the UAE and Vietnam.
On February 2, the Philippines reported the first death outside China, the victim being a Chinese man from Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province where the new coronavirus was detected in late 2019.
January 20 – 26
On January 20, China reported a third death and more than 200 infections, with cases also reported outside Hubei province including in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Meanwhile, a Chinese expert on infectious diseases confirmed human-to-human transmission to state broadcaster CCTV, raising fears of a major outbreak as millions travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday.
The cities of Wuhan, Xiantao and Chibi in Hubei province were placed under effective quarantine on January 23 as air and rail departures were suspended. By the end of the week, more areas were placed under lockdown affecting a total of 56 million people.
The WHO said that the outbreak did not yet constitute a public emergency of international concern and there was “no evidence” of the virus spreading between humans outside of China.
January 13 – 19
The WHO reported on January 13 a case in Thailand, the first outside of China, in a woman who had arrived from Wuhan.
On January 17, as a second death was reported in Wuhan, health authorities in the US announced that three airports would start screening passengers arriving from the city.
Authorities in the US, Nepal, France, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan confirmed cases over the following days.
January 6 – 12
On January 7, officials announced they had identified a new virus, according to the WHO. The novel virus was named 2019-nCoV and was identified as belonging to the coronavirus family, which includes SARS and the common cold.
On January 11, China announced its first death from the virus, a 61-year-old man who had purchased goods from the seafood market. Treatment did not improve his symptoms after he was admitted to hospital and he died of heart failure on the evening of January 9.
December 31 – January 5
On December 31 last year, China alerted the WHO to several cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. The virus was unknown.
Several of those infected worked at the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which was shut down on January 1. As health experts worked to identify the virus amid growing alarm, the number of infections exceeded 40.
On January 5, Chinese officials ruled out the possibility that this was a recurrence of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus – an illness that originated in China and killed more than 770 people worldwide in 2002-2003.