The pneumonia-like virus strikes Wuhan
On December 31st, 2019, China notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of a series of respiratory infections taking place in the city of Wuhan, which is home to approximately 11 million people.
The core virus was unknown, and disease experts around the world started work to identify it. The strain was traced to a seafood market in the city of Wuhan. The market was shut down quickly after confirmation from the healthcare authorities.
At that time, more or less than forty people reported to have an infection.
A new strain of coronavirus emerged
Researchers initially ruled out the SARS virus, the lethal respiratory illness that spread in China during 2002, killing about 800 people worldwide.
Chinese scientists announced on January 7th that they’d detected a new virus. Like SARS and the common cold, it was from the coronavirus family. It was temporarily named 2019-nCoV.
Symptoms include coughing, fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia.
First death reported in China
On January 11th, healthcare authorities of China announced the first death from the coronavirus. A 61-year-old man, who had shopped at the Wuhan market, died from complications with pneumonia.
The virus reaches neighboring countries
Meanwhile, countries such as Thailand and Japan began to report cases of infections in people who had a history of visiting the same Wuhan seafood market.
In China, a second fatality was reported in the city. By January 20th, a total of three people died in China, and over 200 were infected.
Transmission remained unclear
Airports around the world started to screen travelers arriving from China. Scientists, through mid-January, scrambled to identify how the illness was being spread among people.
They suggested that coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they were transmitted from animals to humans. Some coronaviruses could be transmitted by coughing and sneezing.
Officials confirmed on January 20th that the virus could be passed directly between humans.
Millions under Lockdown
On January 23rd, China declared Wuhan on quarantine in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. Transportation suspended and orders delivered to build new hospitals to treat infected patients, which totaled over 830 by the end of January 24th, as the death toll climbed to 26.
Officials from the Chinese healthcare sector eventually extended the lockdown to thirteen other cities, affecting at least 36 million people.
The occurrence of a global health emergency
More and more cases of coronavirus reported outside of China, including Nepal, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia and even in the U.S.
With the number of infections increased, the WHO on January 23rd determines that it is “too early” to declare a global public health emergency.
Coronavirus reaches Europe
France on January 24th confirmed three cases of the new coronavirus, marking the epidemic’s first occurrence in Europe.
Hours later, Australia also reported four people infected with the respiratory virus.
Virus outbreaks on heels of Chinese New Year
The Chinese Lunar New Year starts with subdued festivities on January 25th. Authorities canceled numerous major events in an effort to limit the spread, as millions of Chinese travel and participate in public celebrations.