Wuhan virus: A timeline of the outbreak related to the deadly Sars coronavirus

Wuhan virus: A timeline of the outbreak related to the deadly Sars coronavirus

As the city at the epicentre of the virus is quarantined, the world increases its health checks on incoming Chinese travellers

As a mystery virus out of Wuhan, China, spreads around the world, nations scramble to respond with tighter checks on visitors. So far, we know that it spreads from human to human, and that symptoms include a fever, coughing and difficulty breathing.

Experts have identified the virus as a coronavirus, the same kind of pathogen as that which caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed more than 800 people in 2002/03 and also started in China. 

As events are reported, we will insert them on the day they happened, so some new reports might be further down the timeline.

Here's the latest:

February 16

As of 10 am today, 69,105 people are currently infected by Covid-19, 1,669 people have died and 9,517 have recovered. China reports 124 new deaths and 2009 new cases.

As 2,200 US passengers head home from the Diamond Princess, a woman falls ill. Hong Kong will charter flights to evacuate passengers from the ship.

US passenger from the Westerdam tests positive in Malaysia.

February 15

As of 10.30 am, 67,100 people are infected with Covid-19, 1,256 have died and 8,156 have recovered. China reports 2,641 new cases and 143 deaths. The medical scale of its response to the virus now exceeds that of its response to the Sichuan earthquake.

Egypt records its first case, which is also the first case on the African continent.

Sixty-seven new infection are found onboard the Diamond Princess, bringing the number of infections from cruise ship to 285.

France reports its first death of an elderly Chinese tourist for the first death on the European continent.

February 14

As of 7.30 am today, 60,386 people , are battling Covid-19, 1,370 have died and 6,292 have recovered.

Despite assurances from supermarkets in Hong Kong, shelves are devoid of toilet paper or anything that might be used instead.
Photo: Ligaya Mata

As of 9.30pm today, 64,429 people have tested positive for Covid-19, 1,383 have died and 7,080 have recovered.

Confusion over whether or not US health workers will be able to enter China to fight the virus is hampering world efforts. The US says China won't let the workers in. China says the workers are welcome. The mission to bring in US experts is run by the WHO.

China reveals that six healthcare workers have died froom the virus and more than 1,700 been infected.

February 13

As of 8 am this morning, 45,222 people are infected with Covid-19, 5,150 have recovered and 1,118 have died.

As of 8.30am this morning the infection numbers had leaped to 60,096. Deaths hovered at 1,363 and ,.906 have recovered. Hubei’s health commission said in its daily statement that it had changed the diagnostic criteria used to confirm cases, effective Thursday, meaning that doctors have broader discretion to determine which patients are infected.

Hong Kong will suspend schools for two more weeks, to at least March 16.

China's official news agency Xinhua reports that Hubei Party Secretary Jiang Chaoliang has been replaced by Shanghai mayor Ying Yong, 61, a close ally of President Xi Xinping.  The Communist Party leader of the city of Wuhan, Ma Guoqiang, 56, also lost his job, Xinhua said. He will be replaced by Wang Zhonglin, 57, the party secretary of the city of Jinan, in the eastern province of Shandong. Another Beijing heavyweight, Chen Yixin, was flown into Hubei last week. He is chief of the party’s top law enforcement body – the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission – and is now in charge of handling the outbreak. 

Unverified accounts surface of North Korea executiing a trade official who broke quarantine to visit a public bath. North Korea has yet to register even a suspected case of Covid-19, but has closed its border and quarantined anyone who had been to China recently or been around Chinese people in North Korea.

In South Africa a private hospital group Medclinic has denied that one of their patients died of the virus. A tweet by @MarkSmit222 claimed a friend who worked for China telecoms company ZTE had died in Cape Town. South Africa has not had a single person test positive yet.

Britain records its first case in London.

The Shanghai Grand Prix is cancelled.

Also cancelled is this month's international telecoms conference in Barcelona after major players withdrew.

Doctors working round the clock in Wuhan are unable to eat, drink or relieve themselves. They rely on diapers and clean up after their shift has ended. The unrelenting hours under a surgical mask have left bloody marks on their noses and the hazmat suits cause many to itch, but scratching is out of the question.

February 12

As of 11.30 am today, 1,115 people have died of Covid-19, 4,798 have recovered and 45,182 people are infected. Hong Kong tops the list of infections of those regions outside mainland with 49 cases and one death. China's death toll was recorded at 97, the second decline in the daily death toll since the outbreak began.

39 more people on board the Diamond Princess have tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the number of infected from the ship to 174. The people infected on the ship are not officially added to Japan's total of infection.

Indonesia is indignant over a study by Harvard University public health researchers which questions why the world's fourth most populous nation has not yet recorded any cases of Covid-19.  Health minister Terawan Agus Putranto called the Harvard report “insulting” late Tuesday and said the country had proper testing equipment. “They can be baffled but it’s a fact” there are no cases, he told reporters in Jakarta.

Wuhan’s overburdened health workers are unable to confirm many of those who died were suffering from Covid-19, so they will not show up in official figures. The families of those who die at home are also denied the comfort of being able to make proper funeral arrangements. Wei Peng, a community hospital doctor in the city, said that medical staff were not allowed to list coronavirus as a cause of death when cases had not been confirmed and said that later instructions had even banned them from listing pneumonia. Instead they can only write the immediate cause of a patient’s death, such as diabetes or organ failure. Read more here.

US health officials warn the government that the pharmaceutical industry is unable to produce drugs to fight the virus because it is dependent on ingredients supplied by China. In some cases, China is the sole supplier of active ingredients of US drugs.

February 11

As of 3.30 pm today, the death toll from the coronavirus surpassed the 1,000 mark. 1,018 people have died, 43,111 are currently infected and 4,099 have recovered.

Hong Kong reports 49 confirmed cases including 9 members of the same family. 

32 households living in Hong Mei House on Cheung Hong Estate, Tsing Yi were evacuated after two confimed cases of the virus were found in flats on different floors but in the same block, sparking fears of the virus spreading though plumbing. The plumbing system is being inspected to ensure the flats are safe. 

Keiji Fukuda, an influenza epidemiology expert at University of Hong Kong with a long history at the WHO has asked for the public to wait until after the outbreak to critise responses by officials. 

Two senior officals in Hubei, the centre of the epidemic have been removed. Zhang Jin, the Communist Party secretary of the Hubei Health Commission, and Liu Yingzi, director of the Health Commission, have both been dismissed according to state TV station CCTV.

On Tuesday, Japan’s health ministry announced that there were now 135 cases of the virus on the Diamond Princess, bringing the total number of people infected in Japan to 163 – the highest figure outside mainland China.

WHO says the new virus will be named "Covid-19". The name stands for COrona VIrus Disease. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that a virus is "more powerful in creating.

US postal services suspends time guarantees on shipments destined for China as transport capacity becomes uncertain.

February 10 

As of 8.am today, 904 people have died of the novel coronavirus, 40,198 have been infected and 2,653 have recovered. The global infection report is as follows: Mainland China:37,232, Singapore: 40, Thailand: 32, Hong Kong: 29, Japan:26, South Korea: 25, Taiwan: 18, Malaysia: 16, Australia:15, Germany: 14, Vietnam: 13, USA:12, France: 11, Macau:10, Canada: 7 United Arab Emirates: 7, Italy 3, Philippines: 3, India: 3, Britain: 3, Russia: 2, Spain: 2, Nepal: 1, Cambodia:1, Belgium: 1, Spain: 1, Finland: 1. Sweden:1, Sri Lanka: 1.

Japan reports 66 more passengers aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Yokahama had tested positive, bringing the country's total more than 150.

The number of people cured of the disease is more than three times higher than the death rate.

Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing has donated HK$ 100 million, (US13 million) to help Wuhan. The government says it will arrest two people who had left their mandatory 2-week quarantine. Since the measure started, nine people were found to have left their designated premises.

Citizen journalist and lawyer Chen Qiushi is still silent.

Millions of people in China return to work while the WHO says there are tentative signs the virus is stabilising in China. But, at the same time it warns that the disease may be spreading unnoticed among people who have not been to China. President Xi Jinping vists the Chaoyang district in Beijing "to learn about the situation of epidemic provision and control at the grassroots level,” according to state-run media Xinhua. Pork prices are headed to a record high, according to Bloomberg, on concerns about supply. Inflation in china is at an eight-year high.While the crises roils markets, causing oil to slip in price and gold to rise, companies in China reconfigure their machines to make masks. Auto company SAIC-GM-Wuling, a General Motors Co. venture and BYD Co are churning out protective gear, with petroleum giant Sinopec and iPhone assembler Foxconn joining in. Some are also dabbling in disinfectant and goggles. 

Chinese epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan warns that the incubation for the virus could be 24 days. Zhong, who is famed for his work managing the 2003 SARS outbreak and was appointed a top advisor for this crisis, writes that the incubation could be as short as zero days or long as 24 - 10 days longer than previously believed.The article, which is still awaiting peer review, indicates that the mean incubation period is three days, Hong Kong’s Now News reports. 

Sony Corp becomes the fifth company to pull out of this month's international telecoms conference in Barcelona. Also ditching is Amazon.com, South Korea's LG Electronics, Sweden's Ericsson and US chipmaker Nvidia.

South Korean auto giant Hyundai and sister form Kia motors say they will gradually restart production. Volkswagen AG postpones resumption of production at its China joint ventures.

Britain declares the virus an "imminent threat" ans says it will forcibly detain infected people if neceesary. 

Vietnam culls tens of thousands of birds to contain H5N6 outbreak.

February 9 

As of 10am today, 813 people have died of the novel coronavirus, 37,421 have been infected and 2,653 have recovered. The global infection report is as follows: Mainland China:37,111, Singapore: 33, Thailand: 32, Hong Kong: 26, Japan:25, South Korea: 24, Taiwan: 17, Malaysia: 16, Australia:15, Germany: 13, Vietnam: 13, USA:12, France: 11, Macau:10, Canada: 7 United Arab Emirates: 7, Italy 3, Philippines: 3, India: 3, Britain: 3, Russia: 2, Nepal: 1, Cambodia:1, Belgium: 1, Spain: 1, Finland: 1. Sweden:1, Sri Lanka: 1

Citizen journalist and lawyer Chen Qiushi is still silent.

In Hong Kong, nine of 10 new cases had been to a family gathering for hotpot and barbecue on January 19 at the Lento Party Room in Kwun Tong. Hot Pot stocks slide. Health authorities warn of ‘major difficulties’ in tracing possible virus carriers because some might only show mild flu-like symptoms at early stage.

Video clips of people resisting arrest in mainland China surface on the internet. Citizens are chased, dragged and aggrested by people in hazmat suits. China experiences its deadliest day to date, recording 97 fatalities. 

Police in Hubei province struggle to stop citizens playing Mahjong, even though they have been asked not to gather. Authorities raid mahjong parlours, confiscating one tile from each set, to be returned once the area is safe. Mahjong is a popular game played with small tiles. China records its highest 24 hour death rate at 91 people dying in Hubei and figures climb to the 1,000 mark. The virus from Wuhan has now killed more people than SARS. Although residents in Hubei have been asked to only leave their homes every second day, residents complain that because shops are not fully stocked, they have to go out more frequently than they would like. While authorities expect a bump in cases when people return to work, residents in Wuhan say not everyone has been properly diagnosed. There is still a huge shortage of hospital beds, despite the new hospitals coming on line and public buildings being converted.

February 8

As of 11am HKT, 724 people have died of coronavirus, 2,026 have recovered and 34,824 have been confirmed infected.

Citizen journalist and lawyer Chen Qiushi is still silent.

Royal Caribbean bans travellers with Chinese passports after 4 Anthem of the Seas cruise-ship passengers are sent to New Jersey hospital to be tested for the disease.

A British man who, has been in Singapore, stops over in France on his way home to Hove, near Brighton in East Sussex. Along the way he infects at least seven people.

Passengers who have tested negative for the coronavirus are allowed to leave The Dream World cruise ship.

Boy, 7, infected with H9 avian flu in Hong Kong after Shenzhen trip, the virus subtype is still to be determined.

Kenya says it will bring Wuhan students home, urges Ethiopia to halt China flights. President Uhuru Kenyatta says students who want to be repatriated must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in Kenya. Urging Ethiopia to halt China flights ‘is about protecting our citizens from the risk of infection’, Kenyatta says.

February 7

As of noon today, 638 people have died, 1,546 recovered and 31,452 confirmed infected witht he coronavirus. This signifies a substantial drop in the number of newly infected people. The World Health Organisation says it is too soon to say the virus has peaked.

Li Wenliang, 34, told his medical school alumni group that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a mysterious Sars-like illness.
Photo: TNS

Dr Li Wenliang, 34, one of the Wuhan 8 whistleblowers who raised the alarm about the new disease succumbed to it in the early hours of the morning. The announcement, by the hospital where he was being treated ended, chaotic hours of speculation. When Chinese media first reported his death, the hospital said he was still alive, though in critical condition. Li had become the visible face of the virus after being arrested for posting about it on social media. He announced on February 1 that he had been taken ill. His death has triggered an outpouring of grief and discontent with the central government. The topics "we want free speech" and "Wuhan government owes Li Wenliang an apology" tended briefly on Weibo late on Thursday but were nowhere to be found today. Li left behind his wife, also infected with the coronavirus and pregnant with their second child, and his parents who are also infected. China's discipline inspection commission says a team will go to Wuhan t“conduct a comprehensive investigation into issues involving Dr. Li Wenliang reported by the masses”.

Citizen journalist and lawyer Chen Qiushi is still silent.

A second newborn has tested positive, raising fears the virus can be tramsitted from mother to child. A nine-month-old in Londonderry, Ireland, is rushed to hospital with possible infection after a trip to China. 

Chinese researchers say a virus found in pangolins is a 99 per cent genetic match to the one that has killed hundreds of people in China. Pangolins are severely endangered. However, their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in Chinese Traditional Medicine for a range of issues, including arthritis and lactation. There has never been any scientifially proven medical benefits to consuming pangolin scales.

The Asian Development Bank says it will distribute US$2 million to strengthen measures to detect the virus in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myamar and Vietnam.

Japan reports 41 more cases on board the Diamond Princess for a total of 61 on the ship. At 86 cases, Japan has the highest number outside of China. Passengers trapped onboard are confined to their cabins. Those with inside cabins would have no natural light and no chance to breathe fresh air. Some took to Twitter to complain about the lack of exercise, dwindling medicine and the quality of the food, but praised the crew for their kindness. Japanese officials loaded fresh supplies aboard, to make life more bearable.

Art Basel Hong Kong cancels its art fair.

The most productive car factory in the world falls quiet as South Korea’s Hyundai suspended operations at its giant Ulsan complex, hamstrung by a lack of parts with the coronavirus outbreak crippling China’s industrial output. The five-plant network can make 1.4 million vehicles annually, in a coastal location facilitating importing components and exporting cars globally. But the outbreak in China has seen Beijing order factories closed in several areas as it seeks to contain the epidemic. As a result, Hyundai - which with its affiliate Kia ranks as the world’s fifth-largest auto manufacturer - has run out of the wiring harnesses that connect vehicles’ complex electronics. It has to suspend production at its factories across South Korea, putting 25,000 workers on forced leave and partial wages.

Thousands of people rush to cross Hong Kong border with mainland China ahead of shutdown. Anyone breaching the restrictions will face a jail term of up to six months, a fine of up to HK$25,000 (US$3,200) or both, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung says at a news conference.But Cheung deflects queries about details of the new quarantine camps and officials face a barrage of questions about the ability of the authorities to ensure people quarantined complied with the restrictions.

Hong Kong's quarantine measures leave Conghua off-limits for Hong Kong trainers and jockeys. The 13 dual-site trainers will not be able to see their mainland-based horses in the flesh for the forseeable future.

February 6

As of 7 pm Hong Kong time, 28,344 people have been confirmed infected with the corona virus, 565 have died and 1,305 have recovered.

Chinese doctor Song Yingjie, 27, dropped dead after working non-stop since January 25. He was a team leader at a small clinic in Hunan, and in charge of giving drivers temperature checks. Even though the second hospital is due to open in Wuhan, and the first one delivered more than a thousand beds, with more than 3,000 confirmed cases every day, authorities are struggling to find hospital beds. Public buildings are being converted into hospitals as fast as possible. Authorities in the area say there was still a shortage of masks and other equipment.

Citizen journalist and lawyer Chen Qiushi stops broadcasting about life in a locked city.

China's Vice Premier Sun Chunland calls the for a "people's war" against the virus. She demands authorities work round the clock to go house to house in search of people that need to be quarantined. She names the four as: cofirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have been in close contact with either confirmed or suspected cases, people who have a fever.

Hong Kong researchers say they have created the fastest test for the virus in the world.

Hong Kong's medical union has warned that its members could quit en masse if the Hospital Authority refuses to hold talks with them. The union wants Hong Kong's borders sealed against the mainland to control the outbreak. Instead, two border checkpoints remain open, and the government says that starting on Saturday, all people arriving from the mainland will be quarantined for two weeks.

British scientists say they have made a breakthrough in a vaccine for the virus and will start animal trials next week. If all goes well the team hope to be on human trials by summer. 

Japan says the Olympic games, due to start on Friday, July 24, will not be affected.

Virgin Australia becomes the first international airline to completely withdraw all of its services from Hong Kong.

February 5

As of 12.30 pm, HKT, 492 people have died from the coronavirus, 24,538 have been infected and 911 recovered.

More than 1,800 people are quarantined on board a cruise ship, The World Dream was turned away from Taiwan yesterday and returned to Hong Kong, where at least 30 crew members are reported to be showing signs of having the coronavirus. The vast majority of passengers on the ship are Hongkongers. Health authorities say all passengers will be quarantined until they are checked for the Wuhan virus.

10 people onboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan have tested positive. The Diamond Princess is currently in Japan. The ship was quarantined after a passenger from Hong Kong, who was onboard last month became ill. The passengers have been confined to their cabins as they are tested and the ship is cleaned.

The World Dream ship, which had been denied entry in Taiwan's Kaohsiung amid concerns of coronavirus infection on board, is docked at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong,
Photo: Reuters

Health authorities  in Hong Kong warn the city might be on the verge of widespread outbreak of the coronavirus as three new locally transmitted cases are confirmed. Public hospitals are under pressure with some 5,000 medical workers on strike for the second day. The medical workers want the government to completely close the mainland borders. The union has threatened to increase their action if the city's Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor did not attend a proposed meeting with them today. All entry points to Hong Kong have been closed, except for the Hong Kong-Zhuahi_Macau bridge, Shenzhen Bay Port and the international airport. Public hospital bosses appeal to the strikers to no avail and turn to the private sector for support. The government announces an extension of the work-from-home arrangements for civil servants until February 16. Thousands of Hongkongers camped out overnight in the cold after a company said it would release 6,000 boxes of surgical masks. By 1.30am this morning, 3,000 people had gathered and Luck Well International Holdings in Kowloon Bay urged people to stop joining the queue. By 9.30am, 10,000 people had joined the queue.

Panicked shoppers descend on supermarkets to buy toilet paper, rice and pasta, despite pleas from the government for residents to stop panic buying. Supermarket chain Wellcome said the rumours were not true and there was no shortage of stock.

Wuhan residents who fled the city before it was locked down are struggling to get home. The 5 million people who had already travelled out of the city before the lockdown have become outcasts. They are being quarantined in hotels and hospitals, pushed from pillar to post, and worse, getting threatening phone calls because their peronal data has been spread online. With transport in and out of Hubei vastly reduced or non-existant, when travellers eventually reach Wuhan they find themself stranded because trains, buses, taxis and even Uber have been shut down.

Chinese state media reports a newborn had been diagnosed positive a mere 30 hours after birth. Its mother was confirmed positive. Scientists say it is too early to know if the coronavirus is passed through the placenta.

Italy says it will check all passengers at airports.

United Airlines and America announce a temporary suspension of flights to Hong Kong.

The World Bank says it will lower global growth forecasts because of the outbreak.

Russian president Vladimir Putin warns pharmacies profiteering from the virus will be shut down.

February 4

As of 10 am HKT, 427 people have died from the coronavirus, 20,636 are infected and 667 recovered. In Hong Kong, 16 people have the virus.

Hong Kong records first death. The 39 year old man died in Princess Margaret in Kwai Chung this morning from sudden heart failure, making Hong Kong the second place in the world outside of mainland China to record a death. He was a Hong Kong resident who had travelled to Wuhan last month. He returned home on January 23, via the high speed rail link.

Medical workers in Hong Kong walked off the job this morning even though the government has closed most of the border crossings with mainland China. Hospitals cut services. Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor controversially suggests government officials forego wearing surgical masks, except in strict circumstance, so that the masks can instead be send to medics. 

Macau closes casinos for only the second time in history.

Workers arrange beds in a convention center that has been converted into a temporary hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Photo: Associated Press

More Chinese cities are put on lockdown, affecting about 12 million more people. Taizhou, one of the cities, is just 175 km away from Shanghai. Parts of Hangzhou, including the district that is home to Alibaba's headquarters, have been locked down. In some parts of Ningbo, only one person per household will be allowed to go outside every two days to buy necessities. In Hangzhou, residents in the lock-down areas have to wear masks and submit to compulsory ID and temperature checks. Wenzhou has restricted movement of its citizens and closed down roads. 

Chinese blogger Fang Bin is arrested after secretly filming eight body bags outside a hospital in Wuhan. The unverified footage was shared on Twitter by Chinese journalist Jennifer Zeng on Twitter. - Daily Mail  Police in Tianjin have also put a woman under "administrative punishment" after she "deliberately concealed" her contact with someone from an area stricken with the virus. The high court in Heilongjiang says people who intentionally spread the virus could face the death penalty.

Japan quarantines a cruise ship carrying 3,711 people and tests those on board after a former passenger is diagnosed in Hong Kong. Eight people on the vessel, which arrived at Yokohama Bay on Monday, have symptoms such as fever, top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

South Korea threatens "mask hoarders" with jail. Traders who hoard masks and other equipment used to fight the virus can face up to two years in jail.

Belgium confirms its first case, which was imported when nationals were repatriated from China.

Britain tells its nationals to leave China if they can.

The tiny Pacific nation of Micronesia bans its citizens from visiting mainland China in the latest move by regional leaders to protect island populations highly vulnerable to infectious outbreaks. Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President David Panuelo declared a state of emergency last Friday, banning anyone who had been in mainland China from January 6 from entering his country.

February 3

As of 7pm HKT, 362 have died from the coronavirus outbreak. There have been 17,485 confirmed cases with 496 recovered.

In Hong Kong, non-essential medical workers strike to get the government to seal the borders with China. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor announces four more border crossings, including Lo Wu. The airport, Shenzhen Bay and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge will remain open.

Schools in Hong Kong are closed for the first day of the extension of the New Year holiday. Many Vietnamese schools were also closed.

Gibraltar’s Europa Point pull out of a friendly football game against Wuhan Zall, despite team not being in virus-hit city since January 2.

China says it urgently needs protective gear, medical masks, safety goggles and protective suits. At full capacity, China's factories are only able to produce around 20 million masks a day. The foreign ministry said countries including South Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan and Hungary have donated medical supplies. As China's industry gears up after the Chinese New Year holidays factories are only running at between 60 per cent to 70 per cent capacity. Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, has made masks compulsory. It has a population of around 50 million. Other provinces that have made mask wearing compulsory are Guandong, Sichuan, Hiangxi, Liaoning and the city of Nanjing. Every day, 300 million people need at least one mask.

Beijing struck back at Washington, saying the US was doing nothing to help contain the outbreak but had managed to stoke fear about the virus. China agrees to allow American health experts into the country to help,US officials say as they push back against Beijing’s assertion that Washington has overreacted with its aggressive response to the crisis. “China has accepted the United States’ offer to incorporate a group of experts into a World Health Organisation mission to China to learn more about and combat the virus,” White House spokesman Judd Deere says.

Medical experts say official numbers might not reflect true scale of the outbreak as many patients may be undiagnosed

Testing kits are in short supply, meaning only the ‘fortunate’ who test positive are admitted to hospital for treatment

The Shanghai Composite Index closes 7.7 per cent down. The Hang Seng Index gains 0.2 per cent

Pakistan resumes flights to China.

There are several suspected but no confirmed cases of the virus in Africa and central and South America.

February 2

As of 9 am HKT, there were 304 deaths, 332 recoveries and 14,551 confirmed cases of coronavirus. This brings the number of confirmed cases in China to 14,380, all of the deaths have been in Hubei province.

The Philippines is the first country outside China to report a fatality from the coronavirus.The victim is a 44 year old Chinese male.

Hong Kong sets up an electronic tag system for people who need to be in quarantine. The wristbands are rolled out as 70 of the 97 units of existing quarantine facilities in three holiday camps were occupied by people who had close contact with confirmed cases.

China reports an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 bird flu in Hunan province, which lies on the southern border of Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. Bird flu is much deadlier than either Sars or the coronavirus, but as of yet no human cases have been reported in this outbreak From 2003 to 2019, WHO reported a total of 861 confirmed human cases of H5N1 worldwide, of whom 455 have died. In China, 53 human cases of bird flu infections have been reported in the past 16 years, with 31 having died. No human cases are reported in this outbreak yet, and the disease does not readily spread from human to human.

Workers race against the clock at the Vulcan Mountain (Huoshenshan) field hospital in Wuhan
Photo: Associated Press

China's eastern port of Wenzhou becomes the first mainland city outside central Hubei province to impose quarantine measures. Scientists from Renminbi Hospital of Wuhan University and the Wuhan Institute of Virology of the Chinese Academy of Science report that the virus might be spreading through faeces too. People who have diarrhoea might make the disease spread faster if they do not wash their hands properly or they don't have good toilet facilities. The military staff from the PLA universities will be assigned to Huashenshan Hospital which officially opens tomorrow. The hosptial at Vulcan Mountain has 1,000 beds.

US President Donald Trump says the US has "shut down" the virus threat, and that China had not taken up US offers of assistance. China is not amused.

France says 20 people of the 250 flown back from China because of the virus have shown symptoms of being infected.

Thailand reports apparent success in treating the virus with a combination of drugs. The doctors combined the anti-flu drug oseltamivir with lopinavir and ritonavir, anti-virals used to treat HIV, 

Stars step in

Fans of Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey and Selena Gomez have been donating money to get vital, life-saving equiipment to the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. Their transparent way of working allows fans to track where and how the money is being used. The fan clubs have managed to get 133,000 yuan (US$19,000) of supplies to Hubei. In contrast, the official Red Cross Society has been slammed by the public for its handling of donations and inefficiency in the distribution of much-needed supplies, especially protective clothing for doctors and nurses. The hashtag “Red Cross” has become the most searched topic on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, with many asking: “Why are doctors still without protective gear after so many donations? Is [provincial capital] Wuhan a black hole?”

In Hong Kong, churches take to live streaming their services. Parents demand the government covers the fees for missed classes. Thousands of hospital staff back strike action against the government's failure to close the border with mainland China.

February 1

The death toll from the coronavirus by 11:55pm Hong Kong time, is 259, with 12,027 confirmed cases and 287 recovered.

The US denies entry to any foreigners who have visited China in the past two weeks. United, Delta and American Airlines cancel all flights to China. The US declares the global outbreak to be a public emergency, and prepares 1,000 beds where people can be quarantined.

Britain pulls embassy staff and their families out of China.

Russia and Sweden report their first cases.

People in Hubei try to escape. A man is briefly detained for breaching travel restrictions after he was found rowing a wooden tub across the Yangtze River. The man, from Huangmei county, which is under the administration of Huanggang city in Hubei, told police on Wednesday that he had decided to take the unusual mode of transport because he had to get to work in Jiujiang, a city of five million people on the other side of the Yangtze River. Police are looking for a man from Xiaogan, a mega city in Hubei that is in lockdown, after he allegedly boarded an illegal oil tanker at a port in Shanghai.

The mayor of Huanggang, Qiu Lixin, says that in the days before the lockdown in Wuhan, between 600,000 and 700,000 people moved away from Wuhan and went back to Huanggang, and that authorities in her city were expected in the coming days to announce a massive jump in the number of confirmed cases there.

Police in China's southeastern Anhui province smash mahjong tables to prevent players from gathering.

Guatemala and El Salvador say they will turn back visitors who have been in China in the last two weeks.

Snippet of humanity

Doctors and nurses on the mainland say they lack basic supplies and face physical threats from panicking patients.

One doctor at a Wuhan hospital said he had not been home for two weeks and even during a recent midnight shift he had 150 patients lined up at the outpatient clinic.

“All patients are anxious. Some became desperate after waiting for hours in the cold,” he said.

“I heard one in the queue say he had waited for so long that he wanted to stab us. I am worried. Killing a few of us will not reduce the queue, right?”

His concerns about violence are understandable. On Wednesday, two doctors at Wuhan Fourth Hospital were beaten up by a family member of a patient with pneumonia caused by the virus. One of the doctor’s protective clothing was ripped in the infected zone, Beijing Youth Daily reported. - South China Morning Post

January 31

At the time of publishing the death toll from the coronavirus stands at 213, with 9816 cases reported, and at least 187 cases have recovered. Hong Kong confirms its first human-to-human case.

Britain announces its first two confirmed cases, in Newcastle. In China, cities that flank Wuhan, Huanggang and Xiaogan, rack up infections faster than Wuhan itself. Thailand confirms humand-to-human transmission.

Imperial guards wear protective face masks during a reenactment of the Royal Guards Changing Ceremony in front of Deoksu Palace in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020.
Photo: Associated Press

Hong Kong extends school holidays until March 2, 2020. 

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor announced the city is not closing the border completely with mainland.  A medical union had threatened earlier that about 6,500 of its members would strike if the border stayed open. Internet rumours swirl that Hong Kong has arranged with Beijiing to take excess mainland patients. Lam calls the rumour absurd.

As Hongkongers clamour for surgical masks, 25,000 masks are stolen from warehouse at Wah Fai Industrial Building on Sze Shan Street, Yau Tong. The 25 boxes, containing 1,000 masks each, reached the city from Thailand on Wednesday. They were due to be sold online by a Hong Kong businesswoman. Police could find no signs of a break in.

City University researcher Dr Yuan Hsiang-yu makes dire warning that cases could rise 2,000 per cent as residents return from mainland after Chinese New Year holiday. As of Friday evening there were 12 confirmed cases in the city as hundreds of thousands are expected to return to Hong Kong after Chinese New Year. Immigration Department statistics revealed some 19,555 mainland visitors arrived in the city on Thursday, compared to 27,780 the day before.

Italy declares a state of emergency. With 13 confirmed cases, Singapore closes its border to all travellers who have been in mainland Chinese over the past 14 days. Hundreds of thousands of mainland visitors enter the city state each month.

China says it will send two Xiamen Airlines flights to fetch Wuhan citizens from Bangkok, Thailand and Malaysia. Nations continue to send planes to China to collect nationals. Kenya Airways suspends its flights to China. Pakistan halts all flights to and from China ... until Sunday. Islamabad says there are no immediate plans to evacuate some of its 30,000 nationals living in China. Air Madagascar suspends its weekly flight.  KLM will suspend flights by the end of the weekend. SAS  stops flights to Beijing and Shanghai, Singapore Airlines and SilkAir will cancel some flights. Turkish Airlines suspends flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xian. RwandAir suspends flights.

South Korea’s Health Ministry states that kimchi, the Korean staple dish made from fermented cabbage, chili peppers and garlic would provide no protection against the virus. It also says eating kimchi imported from China would not necessarily put people at a greater risk of infection. During the SARS epidemic of 2003, some South Korean researchers claimed that kimchi possibly explained the country’s relatively low number of cases, saying that a type of bacteria created during the fermentation process would have been helpful in fighting off infections. Corona beer virus searches trend on Google.

China's top court rebukes the police for their heavy handedness in arresting eight people in Wuhan on January 1 after they posted online that Wuhan was in the grip of a new Sars outbreak. The group were reprimanded for “publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification”, a police statement at the time said. Supreme Court judge Tang Xinghua says that the indiscriminate crackdown on online rumours could have “become negative textbook material for weakening public trust in the government” or a “vicious event” eroding support for the Communist party. Wuhan police resond in a post on the social media platform Weibo that they had only given “education and criticism” to the eight and had not meted out harsher punishment such as “warnings, fines, or detention.” Netizens were not amused.

Medical experts in China warn that patients who had recovered from the virus were still at risk of being infected again, and said people should avoid any mass gathering, even dancing in public parks and squares – a popular activity for exercise in China.

January 30

At the time of publishing, the death toll from the coronavirus stands at 170, with 7,912 cases reported, and at least 133 people have recovered. The number of cases has surpassed that of the pneumonia-like illness, Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), on the mainland 17 years ago.

The WHO declares the outbreak a global emergency. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says while the number of infections outside China remain low, thanks to Beijing's massive healthcare measures, the alert was called because countries with weak health system will be unable to cope if cases start happening there. This is only the sixth time the WHO has introduced this measure.

The US issues a level 4 "do not travel" advisory for China. Germany suggests travellers avoid Hubei Province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Construction doesn't stop, as workers build the Huoshenshan temporary field hospital in Wuhan, even at night.
Photo: Associated Press

Tibet's case is confirmed, meaning that every province in China now has infections. Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen urges calm as its first case is confirmed. The Philipines, India and Italy confirm their first cases. The US confirms its first case of human to human transmission. Ethiopia says a suspected case is negative.

Hong Kong banks announce they will close up to 30 per cent of their branches, with some not even maintaining ATMs in the shuttered branches.

Japanese officials say 13 of the 210 nationals evacuated from Wuhan had health issues. Two test positive for the virus.

World Athletics postpones its World Athletics Indoor Championships, set to be in Nanjing in March 13-15. They are now set to be held next year. China has suspended all domestic football matches. The Chinese Super League season had been due to kick off on February 22.

German carrier Lufthansa cancels all flights to and from China. Italy follows after it finds two confirmed cases. Air France suspends flights generally until February 9, but will operate flights manned by volunteer crew to Shanghai and Beijing to "permit customers and employees to return safely". 

Snippet of humanity

 WUHAN - A grey-haired man wearing a face mask lies dead on the pavement at ground zero of China’s virus epidemic, a plastic shopping bag in one hand. On what would typically be a crowded street in Wuhan, an industrial city of 11 million under quarantine, there are only a few passersby and they dare not go near him. AFP journalists saw the body on Thursday morning, not long before an emergency vehicle arrived carrying police and medical staff in full-body protective suits.

The man lay straight on his back in front of a closed furniture store. Medical staff in blue overalls gently shrouded his body with a blue blanket. The ambulance left, and police stacked supermarket cardboard boxes to hide the scene.

Journalists could not determine how the man, who appeared to be aged in his 60s, had died. Police and local health officials, contacted afterwards gave no details.
But the reaction of the police and medical staff in hazmat suits, as well as some of the bystanders, highlighted the fear pervading the city.
A woman standing near the man, wearing pink pyjamas and a Mao cap, said she believed he had died from the virus.
“It’s terrible,” she said. “These days many people have died.” - Agence France-Presse

A convoy carrying South Korean citizens repatriated from the Chinese city of Wuhan leave Gimpo airport in Seoul on January 31, 2020
Photo: Associated Press

North Korea and South Korea agree to suspend work at their liaison office in North korea. Some 58 South Korean officials who work in Kaesong will be repatriated. The Koreas have agreed to establish new phone and fax lines between Seoul and Pyongyang. South Korea flags its first case of human-to-human transmission. Russia announces it will close its far east borders with China's north-eastern provinces. Czechia stops issuing visas to Chinese citizens.

In South Korea, protesters throw plastic waterbottles and paper cups at the nation's vice health minister to oppose a quarantine site in their neighbourhood.

A cruise ship is locked down with 7,000 people on board in Rome's port city, Civitavecchia as two cases are suspected. Some 10 hours later, after the woman from Macau tests negative, passengers are released.

Counting the cost

Wuhan, the central Chinese city that is ground zero of the outbreak, is a major hub for foreign carmakers.

Ikea joins a growing list of companies, which includes Google, FaceBook, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple shutting up shop in China.

China-owned Volvo car makers, that employ about 8,000 people, extends the break for employees until February 9. General Motors, Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor have travel restrictions in place for their staff. Some such as Nissan have been evacuating staff from Wuhan. PSA, Renault and Honda all say they are monitoring the situation closely. Electric pioneer Tesla, which has just started rolling out cars from a giant new factory in Shanghai, says the virus could delay a planned acceleration of production there, and potentially affect earnings this quarter.

Construction on the second field hospital Leishenshan is well underway.
Photo: Associated Press

Several cruise operators including MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean have suspended services to China.

Club Med will close for several weeks six of its holiday villages in China and keep open only its Sanya resort on Hainan island.
Cinemas around China have been forced to close, during what is meant to be a prime time for blockbuster releases during the holidays. Canada-based Imax Corp. could be miss out on US$60-200 million in lost box-office revenues, according to analysts.
Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn is keeping its Chinese factories closed until mid-February and will allow local employees to delay their return after the new year break. The move could affect global supply chains for tech companies that rely on Foxconn to manufacture everything from Apple’s iPhones to flat-screen TVs and laptops. For its part, Apple is working on “mitigation plans” to make up for any production loss from its suppliers in China, such as Foxconn.
Mainland China is the second-biggest market of US coffee chain Starbucks, with more than 4,000 outlets, and half of them have been closed by the outbreak. Fast-food giant McDonald’s has closed all of its “several hundred” restaurants in Hubei, the province of Wuhan, but some 3,000 others in China remain open.
Other brands such as Pizza Hut and KFC are also suffering closures in Hubei province imposed by their Chinese parent company. 
A customer in Central, Hong Kong, stocks up on 3M masks on January 23, ahead of the city-wide shortage.
Photo: Bloomberg


3M, a leading maker of protective face masks, is cranking up production and the world’s biggest glovemaker, Top Glove, expects sales to increase about 25 percent as people pay more attention to hygiene, according to Bloomberg News.

In Hong Kong, three goverment departments refute rumors that they will handout face masks amidst a mask shortage. The government says around two million masks will be released soon, with a further eight million arriving. They promise to facilitate local manifacturing of facemasks while admitting there is a world wide shortage. It advises Hong Kong's 7.4 million residents to not leave home unless they have to.  

Singapore distributes facemasks to citizens from the national supply after shops are sell out. Each housefold gets four. The govenment asks people not to hoard masks. 

January 29

The death toll from the coronavirus stands at 132, with 6,062 cases reported, 110 people have recovered.

Hong Kong has a vaccine! Infectious diseases expert Professor Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong says his team has produced a vaccine, but that it needs to be tested first. “It will take a long time to test on animals,” he says, adding that it will be in trials for longer than a year. HKU researchers based it on a nasal spray influenza vaccine previously invented by Yuen’s team. Researchers modified the flu vaccine with part of the surface antigen of the coronavirus, meaning it could prevent influenza viruses as well as the new coronavirus, which causes pneumonia.

In Hong Kong, some 90 nurses take sick leave ahead of a potential strike planned by health care workers' union, as the government has refused to close all border crossings from the mainland. Customs officials inspect almost 200 shops selling surgical masks as the city is gripped by panic. Rumours online suggest used masks are being sold. Whenever a shop has masks, long queues of people form, desperate to buy them. Some shops are accused of gouging.

Scientists in Australia successfully replicate the virus for the first time outside China. The Doherty Institute in Melbourne says it has grown the novel coronavirus in cell culture from a patient sample. “Having the real virus means we now have the ability to actually validate and verify all test methods, and compare their sensitivities and specificities,” virus identification laboratory head Julian Druce says. “It will be a game-changer for diagnosis.”

People queue for face masks in Nanning, in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Photo: Associated Press

China has handed over the coronavirus genome to Russia for help to develop a vaccine.

UAE confirms first cases, saying doctors are treating a family that had just come from Wuhan. This is the first infection to hit the Middle East. Finland confirms its first case. Confirmed cases in Germany rise to four, all of them are employees at a Bavarian firm recently visited by a Chinese colleague. Tibet, the last province in China to note infection, flags its first case. Hong Kong reports a further two cases. Vietnam flags a likely human-to-human transmission. Kenya and Ethiopia flag their first suspected cases. African nations begin gearing up to deal with the outbreak. Equatorial Guinea says it has quarantined four travellers from China who had arrived in Malabo on Ethiopian Airlines. Mauritania has set up a crisis unit at airports in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou which use thermal cameras to scan arrivals.

British Airways becomes the first major airline to announce a total suspension of flights to China. South East Asia's biggest carrier Lion Air Group of Indonesia says it will halt services from Saturday. Iberia, Spain's national carrier halts flights between Madrid and Shanghai as of Friday. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's carrier, cut flights due to low demand. Papua New Guinea bans travellers from all Asian ports. In a note to airlines and boat operators it says any passangers that come from Asian ports will be refused entry. It also closes its only land border, with Indonesia. Guangdong province in China confirms that three foreigners, two Australians and a Pakistani student, are infected.

Analysts and experts are furious after finding they have been blocked from the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Twitter account after they called for international organisations to deal directly with Taiwan. At the moment, the ICAO and WHO only deal with Beijing. Self-ruled Taiwan has been calling for these bodies to deal with it directly. The ICAO, which is currently headed by Fang Liu, a former Civil Aviation of China official, told AFP that it welcomes any discussion on the outbreak, but that some activists had used the opportunity to make things political. One of those silenced is Michael Mazza, a foreign and defence analyst at the American Enterprise Institute. He responded that Taiwan's exclusion was a fact, and in his opinion it was a problem. He said he had wanted to talk to the ICAO about it, but so far had been refused.

Shoppers queue for free face masks in Tseun Wan, Hong Kong.
Photo: EPA

The Chinese women's national football team is quarantined in Brisbane, Australia. Authorities say 32 people connected with the team had travelled through Wuhan the week before. The World Cup alpine skiing due to be held in Yanging next month has been called off. The International Ski Federation said although the risk was low, they had to protect their athletes. The World Cup was to be the first official Beijing 2022 Test Event. The first winter X-Games to be held in China has been postponed. The X Games Chongli 2020 was due to have been held from February  21-23, in the same areas as the alpine events for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are officially being hosted by Beijing. X-sports, or extreme sports, include BMX, skateboarding, snowboarding, skiing and Moto X. The annual event is produced and broadcast by ESPN.

Toyota says it will keep its plants in China shut until February 9. The decision affects three plants: the GAC Toyota Motor Co Ltd facility, as well as Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co Ltd and Sichuan FAW Toyota Motor Co Ltd.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, 41 people have died of Lassa fever since the beginning of the month. Endemic to Nigeria, Lassa fever belongs to the same family as the Ebola and Marburg viruses, but is much less deadly. The virus is spread by contact with rat faeces or urine. The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control said the death toll was an improvement on January 2019, when 42 deaths were reported.

January 28

The death toll has jumped to 107 and at least 4,474 cases of infection have been reported. All deaths so far have been in mainland China. At least 63 people have recovered. 

Work in progress at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, as can be seen on 28 January.
Photo: Xinhua

Mongolia, still apparently virus-free, closes its border crossings for vehicles and pedestrians with China; schools and universities will remain closed until March 2. Hong Kong and Malaysia announce they will bar entry to people from Wuhan. Kazakhstan suspends its 72-hour transit visa for Chinese. Americans are told to reconsider travel to China. The Philippines will temporarily stop issuing tourist visas on arrival to Chinese nationals. Thailand says it will screen arrivals from China as infections there rise to 14. The WHO says there is no need to evacuate foreign nationals from Wuhan.

Singaporean pop stars JJ Lin and Stefanie Sun release a Chinese-language song, Stay With You, to encourage medical staff working in cities under lockdown on the mainland.

Hong Kong slashes cross-border travel, but stops short of closing the borders completely. The through-train services between Hung Hom and Guangzhou will be suspended. Public facilities, including museums and sports centres are closed, while civil servants have been asked to work from home, as have many staff in private companies. Free face masks are handed out in Tseun Wan.

A man rides a deserted subway in Beijing, January 28, 2020.
Photo: Agence France Presse

China delays schools' return. A statement from the education ministry said schools would open on a case-by-case basis. Beijing's Sars hospital, Xiaotangshan, is being refurbished, with medical staff and construction workers on site as of today. The government says 6,000 medics have been sent to Wuhan, but a shortage of supplies is slowing their development. The mayor of Wuhan says about 5 million people left the city before the lockdown. Premier Li Keqiang visits Wuhan and orders hospitals to admit patients and not turn anyone away.

Sellers on Amazon warn shoppers about fake masks as demand soars, even as medical experts continue to say the masks are ineffective.

Experts say the outbreak will last for months.

Germany confirms first human-to-human transmission. The man had worked in Germany with a Chinese colleague who had begun to feel sick on the flight home.

Japan confirms a case of the virus in a man who had not been to China.

The US says it's developing a vaccine, but it will take three months to start initial trials.

January 27

Eighty people have died from the virus so far and 2,510 are confirmed infected. Hong Kong now has eight cases, and Macau five. Canada, Cambodia, Germany, Ivory Coast, Nepal and Sri Lanka have all recorded their first possible cases.

China issues a blanket ban on the sale of wildlife with immediate effect. China’s National Development and Reform Commission allocates 300 million yuan (around US$43.25 million) for medical equipment purchase and the construction of  Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals which will be used for coronavirus patients in Wuhan, reports the official China Daily. Financial media Caixin reports that Director of the Wuhan Ethnic Affairs Commission, Wang Xianliang, died on January 26 afternoon. All rescue measures were proven ineffectual.

Snippet of humanity

Citizens in Wuhan are mostly staying at home, but unite with others from their balconies to sing the national anthem, or chant "Wuhan, fight!". The anthem’s refrain, Qilai, qilai, qilai! or “Rise up, rise up, rise up!” echoed between the towers of skyscrapers in the city of 11 million, where streets have grown eerily quiet as families try to avoid contact with others who might be infected. 

Work is speeding ahead on the new hospital in Wuhan as this photo taken on January 27 shows.
Photo: Agence France Presse

India flags a suspected case in Rajasthan. In Kerala, scores of people who came in from Wuhan have been quarantined.

Stockmarkets plunged with the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 453, falling for the fifth straight day. The broader S&P 500 index fell 1.6%. Airlines, resorts and other companies that rely on travel and tourism suffered sharp losses. 

Countries continue to evacuate nationals from Wuhan. These include Germany, Morocco, France, Japan, Spain, US, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Russia.

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten publishes a cartoon of the Chinese flag, but instead of stars there are drawings of a coronavirus. China’s embassy in Denmark responded the same day and issued a statement calling the cartoon “an insult to China” that “hurts the feelings of the Chinese people”. The embassy said the cartoon crossed the “ethical boundary of free speech”, and demanded that the paper and the cartoonist Niels Bo Bojesen “reproach themselves for their mistake and publicly apologise to the Chinese people”. The paper declines to do so the following day.

January 26

In mainland China, the death toll is 56, with reported cases at 1975. Hong Kong has five cases, Macau five, Taiwan three, and the rest of Asia has 24. North America has three after Canada declared its first case, Australia has four and Europe has three. This brings the global known infections to 2022. Ivory Coast flags a suspected case, which if tested positive will be the first in Africa. Test results are due on February 1.

Studies suggest that the virus has an infection index of 3.8, which is regarded as very high. For each person infected, 3.8 others are likely to catch the disease. Scientists believe, though, that there are at least 30 drugs that could help to fight the disease. Hospitals in Wuhan begin using anti-HIV drugs on patients.

Hong Kong bars entry for anyone arriving from Hubei. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park theme parks close.

Angry residents in Hong Hong torched a residential block of flats in Fanling that authorities had planned to use as a quarantine centre. The block was uninhabited, a public house project that was yet to be populated.

Snippet of humanity

As the medical workers in Henan were about to board the bus to Wuhan a man suddenly yelled, "Wang Yuehua, I love you!”

He sobbed, gasping, as his wife joined an emergency response team headed to the epicentre of the deadly new coronavirus. A nurse patted the man on the shoulder as he lowered his head, heaving. Another woman came by and murmured to him as he cried, “I know, I know, I can’t control it.”

The nurse next to him began to weep as well, wiping her face as the bus pulled away, loaded with colleagues and loved ones venturing on a perilous journey into an epidemic. At least 15 medical workers have been infected and one has died after treating coronavirus patients in Wuhan. The 52-member group from Henan are joining more than 6,000 medical workers who’ve been dispatched from every province except Tibet and Hubei (where Wuhan is located) to relieve doctors and nurses in on the front lines. - Tribune News Services

January 25

Death toll rises to 41. Among the dead is Liang Wudong, a surgeon at Xinhua Hospital in Hubei province, died at 7am at the age of 62. He is the first doctor to die. The number of global infections reaches 1,300. The virus has spread to 11 countries. France confirms its first 3 cases. Nepal confirms its first case. Australia confirms 1 case and Malaysia confirms 3.

The WHO corrects its global risk level for the virus, from "moderate" to high. “WHO’s risk assessment is that the outbreak is a very high risk in China, and a high risk regionally and globally.” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is visiting China this week to discuss ways of containing the outbreak said.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Yuet-ngo announces school holiday will be extended to February 17. She declares the highest level of emergency.

In Wuhan, video footage of people desperately seeking help was widespread on social media. Some nurses and doctors were reported to be suffering emotional breakdowns in hospital consulting rooms while outpatients crowd corridors with some pictured lying on the floor. Censors try to scrub the video from the internet in China.

More than 20 hospitals in Wuhan have posted statements pleading for aid from various sectors as there has been a shortage of masks, latex gloves, protective goggles and surgical gowns. China deploys 1,230 doctors and nurses to help fight coronavirus as private firms, Tencent, JDCom, Lenovoe, pledge money, supplies

The PLA has requested the green light to use public transport systems to move supplies and staff where needed. The Communist Party has formed a special committee too handle the outbreak. Chinese President Xi Jinping calls on the nation to unite to fight the disease. The government send 1,200 medics from other centres to the frontline in Wuhan. Authorities in Shanghai have also sent 81 ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) life-support machines to Jinyintan Hospital, in Wuhan. 

The ECMO technique – which involves removing blood from a person’s body, removing the carbon dioxide and oxygenating red blood cells before pumping them back into the patient – has already been used on one critically ill patient at Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital, according to Shanghai-based news outlet Thepaper.cn. Though the report did not say how effective the treatment had been.

France begins to bus nationals out of Wuhan to escape the virus.

In Hong Kong, citizens struggle to buy masks. Because they had been banned during the protests, they can not be imported from China. Most shops run out of stock.
The Lancet takes down its paywall for any coronavirus-related articles

January 24

Death toll reaches 26, with 878 confirmed cases in China. The Washington Post reports that Patient 26 was a 36-year-old man that had no underlying disease. He died on 23 January following a sudden heart attack. Most victims so far have been elderly and with underlying conditions. China confirms its first two deaths outside of Hubei Province, the epicentre of the outbreak. The first is in Hebei, a northern province bordering Beijing. The second is in the northeastern province of Heilongjinang, which borders Russia. All but two provinces in China record infections.

Macau announces its school holidays will be extended to February 10. Casinos are still open.

China starts to build a new hospital dedicated to treating patients infected with the virus. The 25,000 square-metre facility in Wuhan, will hold 1,000 beds and is due to be finished by February 3.

Heavy equipment gets busy clearing the site for the planned field hospital in Wuhan where authorities say it will be completed in 10 days.
Photo: Associated Press

Shanghai Disneyland closes. Cirque du Soleil, the Canada-based acrobatic circus franchise, halts all shows in China. The Chinese movie Lost in Russia, due to premiere tomorrow, will be streamed online instead as authorities close cinemas. Huanxi Group announces an agreement with Beijing Bytedance Network. Bytedance, which owns TikTok, said given the situation, fans would be able to watch the movie for free on its app. China annouces it will close a section of the Great Wall and Bird's Nest Stadium. The Ming Tombs and Yinshan Pagoda will be closed tomorrow.

Huangshi city near Hubei province announces that transport routes and ferry terminal will close, bringing the number of cities under partial or full public transport lockdown to 11.

Other cities shutting down include Ezhou, Chibi, Qianjiang, Zhijiang, Jingmen, Dangyan, Xianning, and Xianto. Including Wuhan and Huanggan, an estimated 25 million people are caught up in the unprecedented quarantine. In Wuhan, the number of taxis allowed to operate is limited. Popular ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing temporarily suspends services. Citizens complain that the lack of transport makes getting to hospital or the doctor very difficult. To discourage New Year travellers, the Chinese government says anyone cancelling rail, air, ferry or long-distance coach tickets will get a refund. 

Wiley, a research and education publisher, opens access to Coronavirus research to aid relief efforts.

January 23

A travel ban has been imposed on Wuhan residents, and the streets are empty.

Deaths jump to 17 with more than 500 cases. Wuhan is sealed off, with authorities shutting down public transport and its airport and toll roads An estimated 5 million people have already left the city. Hours later, neighbouring Huanggan is sealed off, too. Studies published on January 21 reveal that an examination of the virus genome points to the likely role of bats and snakes in the outbreak. Food prices in Wuhan begin to rise, masks and disinfectant are difficult to find. Taxis triple their fees. Citizens beg for help online. Zhong Nanshan, 83, the doctor who became a household name 17 years ago for “daring to speak” in the fight against Sars, is appointed to lead the National Health Commission’s investigation into the new virus.

Macau confirms second case and cancels all official Chinese New Year celebrations. China mainland cancels all major Chinese New Year celebrations. Scotland flags two suspected cases. Vietnam confirms two cases. Chinese health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, placing those believed infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes, with air passed through filters. Wang Guangfa, the Peking University respiratory specialist who caught the disease while studying it, believes he caught it through his eyeballs as he did not have goggles.

Hong Kong confirms two men are infected. Officials in Hong Kong announce that two holiday camps will be turned into quarantine zones. The wife of one of the men and two medical staff are sent into quarantine. The MTR stops selling high-speed rail train tickets to Wuhan. Mainland rail companies continue normal service, even though the departure halls of Wuhan railway station are closed. A woman who visited a doctor's clinic had a temperature reading of 37.3 Celsius. She, her husband and son were sent to hospital. Their transfer to an ambulance caused mild panic in Central.

2020 Olympics qualifying matches are moved from Wuhan. The city was meant to host China, Taiwan, Thailand and Australia for the Group B Asian women's football qualifiers from February 3-9, and the Asia/Oceania boxing tournament from February 3-14.

Scientists say coronavirus may have already infected thousands

January 22:

The death toll in China reaches nine, with confirmed cases at 440. Chinese health authorities urge people to avoid large crowds and public gatherings, warning the disease could mutate. 

Macau confirms its first case. The Philippines flags a suspected case. Australia says a man suspected of contracting the disease tested negative. 

Chinese physician Wang Guangfa, who was investigating the outbreak, reports that he himself is infected. Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control, says officials are working on the assumption that the outbreak resulted from human exposure to wild animals that were being "traded illegally" at a food market in Wuhan, and that the virus is mutating.

The WHO holds off on calling the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern”, but decides to meet again the following day because the situation is evolving rapidly. 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen urges WHO to include Taiwan after the organisation blocked it as being part of China. Hong Kong flags two cases.

Snakes are scientists' top suspect for the outbreak. A group of scientists writes “the most probable wildlife reservoir” for the new virus, according to an article published Wednesday in the Journal of Medical Virology. The two specific types of snake cited in the study are the Chinese cobra and the Chinese krait.

January 21:

The death toll is raised to six. China says the number of infections have jumped to nearly 300. Fifteen medical workers are confirmed infected in Wuhan. Zhejiang province declares five cases. China's government warns officials not to cover up spread of virus. Face masks are selling out fast. The Chinese aviation authority warns companies not to charge fees for anyone cancelling flights from the area. Singapore, Taiwan and the United States report their first cases. North Korea bans foreign travellers.

How to avoid the Wuhan virus in Hong Kong 

January 20 

Human-to-human transmission is confirmed. Third death in China announced. The virus is found in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Hong Kong's neighbouring city. South Korea detects its first case in a Chinese passenger arriving from Wuhan. Singapore begins temperature screening all travellers arriving from China at Changi Airport. Hong Kong strengthens its detection and response measures.

Whuan municipal government said it was distributing 200,000 free tickets to residents for festive new year activities.

Jaunary 18

The Wuhan government hosts a banquet attended by more than 40,000 families in a bid to set a Guinness world record. 

Jaunary 17

The US begins screening passengers at San Francisco, New York's JFK and Los Angeles airports.

January 16 

Japan records its first case in someone who has recently been in Wuhan.

Wuhan virus: what you need to know 

January 13

Thailand records its first case.

January 1, 2020

A wildlife and seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, suspected of being ground zero, is closed.

Police in Wuhan arrest eight people and punish them after they claimed online that Wuhan was in the grip of a fresh Sars outbreak. The group were reprimanded for "publishing or forwarding false information on the internet without verification," a police statement says.

December 31, 2019 

The World Health Organisation is alerted by Chinese authorities.

December 8, 2019

A patient in the city of Wuhan, China, seeks medical help for pneumonia-like symptoms.


To post comments please
register or