UPDATED: Timeline of the Coronavirus

UPDATED: Timeline of the Coronavirus

A frequently updated tracker of emerging developments from the beginning of the novel coronavirus outbreak

Photo shows a gloved hand holding a test tube labeled, “2019-nCoV” with two boxes ,marked “Positive” and “Negative.” The positive box is checked.
Test tube with Coronavirus name label is seen in this illustration taken on January 29, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic.

Think Global Health is a multi-contributor website that examines the ways in which changes in health are reshaping economies, societies, and the everyday lives of people around the globe. Launched on January 21, 2020, our editorial team has been monitoring the unfolding COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, outbreak and its economic and social consequences. We will be updating this timeline frequently as new developments are reported. You can access all of Think Global Health’s coronavirus coverage here.

Status as of February 21, 2020

  • Total number of confirmed cases: 76,832
  • Number of countries with cases: 29
  • Total number of people killed: 2,250

Daily Countries Briefing

As of February 21, Chinese authorities reported 75,465 confirmed cases in mainland China. The total death count has risen to 2,236 within mainland China: 2,144 deaths in Hubei; 19 in Henan; 12 in Heilongjiang; 6 each in Anhui and Chongqing; 5 each in Guangdong and Hebei; 4 each in Beijing, Hainan, Hunan, and Shandong; 3 each in Sichuan, and Tianjin; 2 each in Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Shanghai, and Yunnan; and 1 each in Fujian, Guilin, Jiangxi, Liaoning, Shanxi, Xinjiang, and Zhejiang. Twenty-five provinces have recorded deaths.

On February 20, China's National Health Commission issued a second change in guidelines that outline how to classify and report COVID-19 cases in Hubei province. These changes roll back the "clinically confirmed" category previously introduced solely for Hubei province on February 13. The new classification system no longer counts “clinically confirmed" cases towards the total number of confirmed cases in Hubei. Under these second revisions, for a case to be counted as a confirmed case, the individual must (1) have an epidemiological history and two clinical symptoms or no epidemiological history and three clinical symptoms and (2) positive laboratory results or gene sequencing. However, on February 21, Hubei party secretary Ying Yong ordered that any cases removed from daily tallies due to the second round of changes should be added back to the tally. This change is the third to case classification measures in Hubei province.

In addition to China, the following twenty-eight countries have confirmed cases of COVID-19: Australia (17), Belgium (1), Cambodia (1), Canada (9), Egypt (1), Finland (1), France (12), Germany (16), India (3), Iran (18), Israel (1), Italy (19), Japan (105), Lebanon (1), Malaysia (22), Nepal (1), Philippines (3), Russia (2), Singapore (86), South Korea (204), Spain (2), Sri Lanka (1), Sweden (1), Thailand (35), the United Arab Emirates (11), United Kingdom (9), the United States (30), and Vietnam (16). Domestic tallies do not include cases that were originally confirmed elsewhere, including on the Diamond Princess.

Outside of mainland China, seven countries and territories have reported deaths: France (1), Hong Kong (2), Iran (4), Japan (3), the Philippines (1), South Korea (2), and Taiwan (1).

In Japan, a total of 634 people aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess have been confirmed to have the coronavirus. Two individuals infected on the ship, both Japanese nationals, have died from COVID-19.  Diamond Princess has confirmed that Australia, Canada, Hong Kong have evacuated their citizens, along with South Korea and the United States. Additional evacuees to Australia, Israel, and the United States tested positive for COVID-19 after leaving Japan. 

After docking and disembarking in Cambodia, one American passenger aboard the MS Westerdam tested positive for COVID-19 while transiting through Malaysia. The ship had 2,257 passengers and crew on board.

Ongoing Timeline of Events Follows

The photo shows a large crowd protesting with lots of picket signs.
Family members during a protest in Karachi, Pakistan on Feb. 16, 2020 hold signs demanding the evacuation of Pakistani students from Wuhan, China who couldn't return after the coronavirus outbreak. REUTERS/Imran Ali

Week of Feb 15–Feb 18: Cruise Ship Cases Rise; Outbreaks in Iran, Italy, and South Korea; More Deaths Outside Mainland China

February 21

  • South Korea reports its second death.
  • Iran reports two additional deaths.
  • Japan suspends major public gatherings to counter the spread of COVID-19.
  • Lebanon reports its first case, a woman returning from the Iranian city of Qom.
  • Israel reports its first case.
  • Italy closes public spaces in ten Italian towns after confirming sixteen cases in Northern Italy in one day.
  • Singapore confirms what is believed to be the first patient infected with both dengue and COVID-19.
  • The United States confirms a total of thirty-four coronavirus cases, including passengers evacuated from the Diamond Princess.
  • Hubei party secretary Ying Yong orders all cases removed from official provincial tallies on Thursday due to change in classification mechanisms to be added back to the total tally.
  • Shandong reports an outbreak in Rencheng prison of 200 confirmed cases.

February 20

  • Japan reports two additional deaths, passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
  • Japan confirms an additional thirteen cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 634.
  • Singapore confirms what is believed to be the first patient infected with both dengue and COVID-19.
  • South Korea reports its first death.
  • South Korea reports a doubling of COVID-19 cases in twenty-four hours.
  • The mayor of Daegu, South Korea asks residents in the city to remain inside following a steep increase in cases.
  • Iran urges people to limit movements in the city of Qom, where there has been four confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • Kuwait suspends all flights of Kuwait Airways to Iran and advises citizens not to travel to Qom.
  • Iraq closes its border with Iran.
  • A woman in British Colombia, Canada, tests positive for the coronavirus after returning from Iran.
  • China’s National Health Commission again changes its classification system for cases in Hubei province. The new classification no longer includes clinically confirmed cases in data for confirmed cases of COVID-19.

February 19

  • COVID-19 death toll surpasses 2,000.
  • Japan confirms an additional seventy-nine cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 621.
  • Passengers aboard the Princess Diamond begin to disembark from the ship.
  • South Korea reports twenty cases in one day, almost all of which are linked to one woman.
  • China expels three Wall Street Journal reporters over an opinion piece that referred to China as “the real sick man of Asia.”
  • Iran confirms its first and second cases.
  • Iran reports its first and second deaths from COVID-19; the individuals were the two cases announced earlier in the day.
  • Hong Kong reports its second death from COVID-19.
  • Cambodia announces that the remaining passengers from the MS Westerdam still in the country tested negative for COVID-19.

February 18

  • Japan confirms an additional eighty-eight cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 542.
  • Russia bans all Chinese citizens from entering the country.
  • 346 Americans evacuated from Wuhan complete their quarantine at two military bases in California.
  • U.S. CDC issues a statement on the Diamond Princess quarantine, preventing all passengers and crew of the ship from returning to the United States for at least fourteen days after leaving Diamond Princess.
  • Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, China, dies from the COVID-19.
  • Chinese state media announces that doctors and nurses who die while trying to contain the outbreak will be officially designated as “martyrs.”

February 17

  • WHO announces it will report all confirmed cases, including both laboratory-confirmed cases and clinically diagnosed cases.
  • Apple warns investors that the company does not expect to meet the revenue guidance for the upcoming March quarter due to the impact of the COVID-19.
  • Chinese state media reports that China’s annual parliamentary meeting, originally scheduled for early March, will likely be delayed.
  • Armed robbers in Hong Kong steal HK$1,600 worth of toilet paper as COVID-19 has sparked panicked-buying of essential goods in Hong Kong.
  • Japan confirms an additional ninety-nine cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 454.
  • Evacuated U.S. passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess arrive in the United States, including fourteen with confirmed infections.

February 16

  • Taiwan reports the fifth death outside of mainland China.
  • Japan warns that it has entered a “new phase” of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Japan confirms an additional seventy cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 355.
  • The WHO-led expert team arrives in Beijing.

February 15

  • France reports the fourth death outside of mainland China.
  • WHO Director General addresses the Munich Security Conference about COVID-19, warning that the pathogen has pandemic potential.
  • Japan confirms an additional sixty-seven cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 285.
  • Lockdowns and travel restrictions extend to more than 760 million people in China.
  • The Guangzhou branch of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, announces that all used banknotes from hospitals, wet markets, and buses will be destroyed to combat COVID-19.
  • An American passenger from the MS Westerdam tests positive for COVID-19 in Malaysia after passengers had disembarked from the cruise ship in Cambodia.
  • The United States announces plans to evacuate nearly four hundred Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship; passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be treated in Japan.
The photo shows a massive luxury cruise ship off in the distance, in a photo presumably taken from shore.
The MS Westerdam cruise ship seen on Feb. 13, 2020 near a port in Sihanoukville, Cambodia where it was granted permission to dock after nearly two weeks at sea and being turned away by five countries. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun.

Week of Feb 8–Feb 14: Death Toll Surpasses That of SARS; WHO-led Team Heads for China; Cruise Ship Cases Surpass 100

February 14

  • Hubei revises numbers released on February 13, due to double counting.
  • Egypt confirms first case, the first case confirmed on the African continent.
  • Beijing announced that everyone returning to the city would be required to isolate themselves for fourteen days.
  • Singapore's Prime Minister warns that the coronavirus might lead to a recession.
  • Passengers and crew aboard the MS Westerdam disembark in Cambodia.
  • Confirmed virus-free passengers and passengers aged over eighty-years-old who test negative for the virus are allowed to disembark from the Princess Diamond cruise ship.
  • China announces that more than 1,700 health workers in mainland China have become infected.

February 13

  • U.S. CDC Director says that the coronavirus will likely become a community virus and remain beyond this season.
  • United States confirms fifteen case of the coronavirus.
  • Hubei’s reported cases increase almost tenfold and deaths more than double following a change in diagnostic criteria.
  • EU health ministers convene in Brussels for an emergency health meeting on how to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in Europe.
  • Cambodia allows the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock.
  • China dismisses top party officials in Hubei province.
  • Japan confirms an additional forty-four cases aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 218.
  • Japan reports the third death outside of mainland China.
  • Vietnam quarantines a community of ten-thousand people near Hanoi.

February 12

  • United States confirms fourteenth case.
  • Some U.S. states find testing kits distributed by CDC deliver “inconclusive” results.
  • Japan confirms an additional thirty-nine cases aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 174.
  • Cambodia agrees to let the cruise ship MS Westerdam dock and disembark.
  • Guangzhou and Shenzhen are given the power to requisition private property to fight the coronavirus.
  • WHO hosts the second of a two-day global research and innovation forum on the coronavirus.

February 11

  • The death toll for the coronavirus surpasses 1,000.
  • Two senior Hubei provincial health commission officials are removed from their posts.
  • Thailand denies the cruise ship MS Westerdam from docking in its ports. The ship has already been denied entry in Guam, Japan, the Philippines, and Taiwan. 
  • WHO hosts the first of a two-day global research and innovation forum on the coronavirus.
  • The first group of Americans evacuated from Wuhan are released from quarantine.
  • WHO names the disease COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

February 10

  • The United States confirms its thirteenth case.
  • Japan confirms an additional sixty-five people aboard the Diamond Princess are infected with the coronavirus, raising the total to 135.
  • The United Kingdom declares that the coronavirus constitutes a serious and imminent threat to public health.
  • Some Chinese citizens return to work, but many major companies have asked employees to stay home.
  • The Trump administration releases a budget proposal for FY21 that would sharply cut funding for WHO and global health funding.
  • An advance team of WHO experts lands in China.
  • Russia quarantines a Chinese diplomat as a supposed safety precaution.

February 9

  • The death toll from the novel coronavirus surpasses the toll from the SARS epidemic of 2002-3. 
  • China allocates more than $10 billion USD to fight the coronavirus.
  • The Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai addresses rumors about the origin of the coronavirus on U.S. television.
  • An advance team for the WHO-led 2019-nCoV international expert mission departs for China.

February 8

  • WHO announces a team of experts has been assembled, and they are intended to arrive in China within a week.
  • Xi Jinping visits hospitals and treatment centers in Beijing.
  • Wuhan opens a second new hospital to fight the coronavirus.
  • China’s National Health Commission gives the coronavirus a temporary name, Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia or NCP.
  • Japan confirms a Japanese citizen died in Wuhan from the coronavirus.
 The photo shows an aerial view of a sprawling low-rise complex.
Outbreak and response: an aerial view shows the newly completed Huoshenshan Hospital on Feb 2, 2020. This dedicated hospital was built in eight days to treat people with coronavirus in Wuhan, China. REUTERS/China Daily

Week of Feb 1–Feb 7: First Deaths Outside China; Coordinated G7 Response; Chinese Stock Markets Plunge

February 7

  • Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistleblower doctors in Wuhan, dies from the coronavirus.
  • Chinese social media is flooded with grief and anger over the passing of Li Wenliang.
  • Donald Trump and Xi Jinping speak about the coronavirus, with Trump praising China’s efforts and pledging support.
  • Japan confirms an additional twenty-one cases aboard the cruise ship, including the first person from Latin America to be infected with the coronavirus.
  • Singapore raises its virus alert to orange (the same level given to SARS and H1N1), sparking panicked purchases of essentials across the island.
  • The United States pledges $100 million USD to assisting China and other countries fight the coronavirus.

February 6

  • An American citizen with the coronavirus dies in Wuhan, becoming the first known American death from the outbreak.
  • Japan confirms an additional ten cases of the coronavirus on the cruise ship.
  • Taiwan extends its travel advisory to those coming from Macau and Hong Kong.
  • Russia rejects a Saudi-led effort to deepen OPEC’s oil production cuts in response to the coronavirus.
  • Chinese authorities order Wuhan officials to carry out house-to-house searches and house all infected individuals in quarantine centers.
  • WHO convenes global research and innovation forum to accelerate research and action on the coronavirus.

February 5

    • The United States completes a second round of evacuations from Wuhan.
    • The United States confirms its twelfth case.
    • Hong Kong announces mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone arriving from mainland China and has suspended ten out of thirteen boarder crossing with mainland China.
    • Japan confirms ten cases of the coronavirus on a cruise ship with nearly 4,000 passengers and crew and announces the ship will be quarantined for two weeks.
    • CDC announces several planes carrying passengers from Wuhan, China, will arrive in California, Texas, and Nebraska.
    • CDC begins shipping diagnostic test kits to more than a hundred labs in the United States.
    • WHO launches a $675 million preparedness and response plan for February through April 2020 to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus and protect states with weaker health systems.
    • An infant tests positive for the coronavirus just thirty hours after birth, raising concerns of vertical transmission.
    • U.S. Peace Corps evacuates all volunteers out of China.

      February 4

      • Belgium confirms its first case.
      • Hong Kong reports the second death outside of mainland China.
      • Taiwan announces ban on foreign nationals who have been to China in past fourteen days.
      • United Kingdom and France advise against all but essential travel to mainland China.
      • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues an emergency use authorization for CDC’s diagnostic test.
      • President Trump pledges to safeguard Americans from the coronavirus in his State of the Union address.

      February 3

      • Chinese stock markets plunge on the first trading day after the Lunar New Year.
      • The first U.S. coronavirus patient is discharged from the hospital.
      • Ministries of health from G7 countries agree to coordinate their responses to the outbreak.
      • Germany’s public health agency refutes information in an earlier study that supposedly proved asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus in Germany.

      February 2

      • United States confirms its ninth, tenth, and eleventh cases.
      • Construction on a new hospital in Wuhan is completed within ten days.
      • Wuhan tightens quarantine efforts, targeting anyone who has had close contact with confirmed carriers of the virus and people with pneumonia-like symptoms.

      February 1

      • United States confirms its eighth case.
      • The Philippines  reports the first death outside of mainland China.
      • China’s Ministry of Agriculture reports another disease outbreak: a new bird flu.
      • Wenzhou becomes the first city outside of Hubei province to  implement “special measures” to restrict travel, businesses, and public gatherings.
      Photo shows a plane touching down in the distance from behind a security fence.
      Photo of the Week: A plane sent by U.S. State Department to evacuate Americans from threat of Coronavirus in Wuhan, China arrives at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, Calif. on Jan 29, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake

      Week of Jan 25–Jan 31: First Cases Appear in Many More Countries; Travel Bans Spread

      January 31

      • Russia confirms its first case.
      • Italy confirms its first case.
      • United Kingdom confirms its first case.
      • Singapore announces sweeping ban on Chinese visitors and all those who had visited China within the past fourteen days.
      • Mongolia closes its border with China. 

      January 30

      • India confirms first first case.
      • The Philippines confirms its first case.
      • The United States confirms its sixth case, the first person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus in the country.
      • The WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). 
      • Germany finds evidence of asymptomatic transmission of the coronavirus. 
      • The United States issues a Level 4 travel advisory for all of China. 
      • Russia closes its border with China. 

      January 29      

      • United Arab Emirates confirms its first case.
      • Finland confirms its first case.
      • Several other airlines in North America, Europe, and Asia suspend flights to China.
      • A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds evidence of human-to-human transmission as early as mid-December in Wuhan. Germany’s public health agency refutes information a week later.
      • The United States and Japan are the first countries to evacuate citizens from Wuhan. 

      January 28      

      • China announces it will admit a WHO team of experts to aid with research and response.
      • Hong Kong and Mongolia announce partial closures of their borders with mainland China.
      • Japan and the United States evacuate their nationals from Wuhan.
      • United Airlines suspends all flights to China from the United States. 

      January 27

      • Wuhan suspends customs entry and exit services in the city until Thursday.
      • Cambodia confirms its first case.
      • Sri Lanka confirms its first case.
      • Germany confirms its first case.
      • Wuhan mayor offers to resign.
      • United States extends screening to twenty airports.

      January 26

      • China bans the trade of wild animals throughout the country, including in markets and online.
      • United States confirms fourth and fifth cases in Los Angeles and Arizona.

      January 25

      • Australia confirms its first case.
      • Canada confirms its first case.
      • United States confirms its third case, a man in his fifties in Orange County, California.
      • First medical professional who had treated people with the coronavirus dies from the virus.
      Picture shows a field from a high shot, presumably taken from a plane, with a field cleared of groundcover and dozens of land moving machines busy working.
      Excavators and bulldozers at a construction site on the outskirts of Wuhan, China on Jan. 24, 2020, where a new hospital is being built to treat people with coronavirus, following the city's lockdown. REUTERS/cnsphoto.

      Week of Jan 18–Jan 24: First Cases Appear in United States and Europe; The Closing of Wuhan

      January 24

      • Chinese CDC confirms 830 cases in mainland China and 25 deaths, with the first death occurring outside of Hubei province in Hebei.
      • The Chinese province of Heilongjiang confirms an additional death, raising the death count to 26.
      • Nepal confirms its first case.
      • Vietnam confirms its first case.
      • France confirms its first and second cases.
      • The United States confirms its second case, a woman in her sixties in Chicago.
      • Malaysia confirms its first case.
      • China extends travel restrictions or quarantines to twelve cities.
      • Wuhan construction crews are working on two hospitals to treat patients of the outbreak; the first is to be completed on February 3 and the second in early February.

      January 23

      • Chinese CDC confirms 571 cases in mainland China and 17 deaths.
      • China extends travel restrictions or quarantines to five cities.
      • WHO meets again and decides not to declare the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
      • Singapore confirms its first case.

      January 22

      • North Korea closes its borders to all foreign tourists to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
      • Chinese officials confirm the virus may mutate.
      • Chinese CDC confirms a total of 440 cases in mainland China and 9 deaths.
      • Macau confirms its first case.
      • WHO meets to discuss whether to declare the outbreak an international health emergency.

      January 21

      • United States confirms its first case in Washington state, a man who traveled to the Wuhan area.
      • China confirms two additional deaths, a sixty-six-year-old man and a forty-eight-year-old woman
      • New cases are announced in China, including in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai.
      • Chinese state media raises number of confirmed cases to 291 and confirms 15 medical workers in Wuhan have been diagnosed with pneumonia.
      • Hong Kong confirms its first case, a person in their thirties.
      • Taiwan confirms its first case, a woman in her fifties.

      January 20

      • China’s CDC announces the coronavirus is categorized as a Class B infectious disease, but states that the agency is adopting Class A measures to prevent and control the virus.
      • China confirms fourth death, an eighty-nine-year-old man.
      • South Korea confirms its first case.
      • Chinese state TV confirms the human-to-human transmission of the disease.

      January 18

      • A third person dies from the coronavirus.
      The photo shows a business district street with an officer in front of a shuttered marketplace. Picture taken January 10, 2020.
      A police officer wearing a mask stands in front of the closed seafood market in Wuhan, China on January 10, 2020. The market is linked to the coronavirus outbreak. REUTERS/Stringer

      Dec 1–Jan 17: First Cases Reported in China; Outbreak Spreads to Other Countries

      January 17

      • A second man, aged sixty-nine, dies in Wuhan.
      • Thailand reports its second case, a seventy-four-year-old woman.

      January 16

      • Japan reports its first case, a man in his mid-thirties who did not visit the seafood market.

      January 14

      • Wuhan implements screening measures for travelers leaving the city at airports, railway stations, and other passenger terminals.

      January 13

      • Thailand reports its first case, a sixty-one year old woman who did not visit the seafood market.

      January 1

      • The seafood market (Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market) that was identified as a suspected center of the outbreak is closed.

      December 31

      • Chinese authorities alert WHO about a string of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan.

      December 29 

      • Local hospitals in Hubei report the first four cases of a “pneumonia of unknown etiology.”

      December 8

      • A patient in the city of Wuhan sought medical help for pneumonia-like symptoms.

      December 1

      • The earliest date of symptom onset, according to a study in the journal Lancet.

      Samantha Kiernan is a research associate on global health, economics, and development at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

      Jason Socrates Bardi is the Deputy Managing Editor, Global Health, in the David Rockefeller Studies Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

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