All Lessons

All Lessons

A Timeline of the Coronavirus Pandemic

The outbreak of the virus, which began in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than a million people. At least 120,000 people have died.

A group of healthcare workers prepare at a testing site in Tampa, Fla. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Credit…Eve Edelheit for The New York Times

The coronavirus, which surfaced in a Chinese seafood and poultry market late last year, has spread to at least 177 countries, killing more than 120,000 and sickening more than one million in a matter of weeks. The World Health Organization has declared the situation a pandemic.

Here’s a timeline of the outbreak so far.

DEC. 31

On Dec. 31, the government in Wuhan, China, confirmed that health authorities were treating dozens of cases. Days later, researchers in China identified a new virus that had infected dozens of people in Asia. At the time, there was no evidence that the virus was readily spread by humans. Health officials in China said they were monitoring it to prevent the outbreak from developing into something more severe.

[Frequently asked questions and advice about life under the coronavirus]

JAN. 11

On Jan. 11, Chinese state media reported the first known deathfrom an illness caused by the virus, which had infected dozens of people. The 61-year-old man who died was a regular customer at the market in Wuhan, and he had previously been found to have abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease. The report of his death came just before one of China’s biggest holidays, when hundreds of millions of people travel across the country.

JAN. 20

The first confirmed cases outside mainland China occurred in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, according to the World Health Organization’s first situation report. The first confirmed case in the United States came the next day in Washington State, where a man in his 30s developed symptoms after returning from a trip to Wuhan.


Continue reading the main story

JAN. 23

ImageChinese authorities suspended buses, subways and ferries within the city of Wuhan, pictured here Feb. 3.
Credit…Getty Images

The Chinese authorities closed off Wuhan by canceling planes and trains leaving the city, and suspending buses, subways and ferries within it. At this point, at least 17 people had died and more than 570 others had been infected, including in Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, South Korea and the United States.

  • Help us report in critical moments.

Subscribe today to support The Times

JAN. 30

Amid thousands of new cases in China, a “public health emergency of international concern” was officially declared by the W.H.O. China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that it would continue to work with the W.H.O. and other countries to protect public health, and the U.S. State Department warned travelers to avoid China.

JAN. 31

The Trump administration suspended entry into the United States by any foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the past 14 days, excluding the immediate family members of American citizens or permanent residents. By this date, 213 people had diedand nearly 9,800 had been infected worldwide.

FEB. 2

A 44-year-old man in the Philippines died after being infected, officials said, the first death reported outside China. By this point, more than 360 people had died.


Continue reading the main story

FEB. 5


The Diamond Princess cruise ship on Feb. 9
Credit…Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

After a two-week trip to Southeast Asia, more than 3,600 passengers began a quarantine aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan. Officials started screening passengers, and the number of people who tested positive became the largest number of coronavirus cases outside China. By Feb. 13, the number stood at 218.

FEB. 7


The death of Dr. Li Wenliang provoked anger at how the Chinese government handled the epidemic.
Credit…Tyrone Siu/Reuters

When Dr. Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor, died on Feb. 7 after contracting the coronavirus, he was hailed as a hero by many for trying to ring early alarms that a cluster of infections could spin out of control.

In early January, the authorities reprimanded him, and he was forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumor. Dr. Li’s death provoked anger and frustration at how the Chinese government mishandled the situation by not sharing information earlier and silencing whistle-blowers.

FEB. 11

The World Health Organization on Feb. 11 proposed an official name for the disease the virus coronavirus causes: Covid-19, an acronym that stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The name makes no reference to any of the people, places, or animals associated with the coronavirus, given the goal to avoid stigma.

By the next day, the death toll in China had reached 1,113 and the total number of confirmed cases rose to 44,653. There were 393 cases outside of China, in 24 countries.


Continue reading the main story

FEB. 13

Officials added more than 14,840 new cases to the total number of infected in Hubei Province, and the ruling Communist Party oustedtop officials there. The new cases set a daily record, coming after officials in Hubei seemed to be including infections that were diagnosed by using lung scans of symptomatic patients.

FEB. 14


France’s first coronavirus death was the fourth death from the virus outside of mainland China.
Credit…Ian Langsdon/EPA, via Shutterstock

An 80-year-old Chinese tourist died on Feb. 14 at a hospital in Paris, in what was the first coronavirus death outside Asia, the authorities said. It was the fourth death from the virus outside mainland China, where about 1,500 people had died, most of them in Hubei Province.

FEB. 17

China said it was reviewing its trade and consumption of wildlife, which has been identified as a probable source of the outbreak. Officials drafted legislation that aims to end “the pernicious habit of eating wildlife,” a statement from the Standing Committee of the Congress said.

FEB. 19

After a two-week quarantine, 443 passengers began leaving the Diamond Princess cruise ship. It was the first day of a three-day operation to offload people who tested negative for the virus and did not have symptoms. Passengers who shared cabins with infected patients remained on the ship. A total of 621 people aboard the ship were infected.

FEB. 21

Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a secretive church in South Korea was linked to a surge of infections in the country. The number of confirmed cases in the country rose above 200, and more than 400 other church members reported potential symptoms, health officials said.

As a result, the government shut down thousands of kindergartens, nursing homes and community centers, and put a stop to political rallies in the capital, Seoul.


Continue reading the main story

FEB. 21

On Feb. 19, Iran announced two coronavirus cases in the country, then hours later said that both patients had died. Two days later, Iran announced two additional deaths. The source of the virus in Iran is unknown. By Feb. 20, the number of global cases had risen to nearly 76,000, according to the W.H.O.

FEB. 23


Officials in Italy locked down 10 towns after a cluster of cases suddenly emerged near Milan.
Credit…Nicola Fossella/EPA, via Shutterstock

Europe faced its first major outbreak as the number of reported cases in Italy grew from fewer than five to more than 150. In the Lombardy region, officials locked down 10 towns after a cluster of cases suddenly emerged in Codogno, southeast of Milan. As a result, schools closed and sporting and cultural events were canceled.

FEB. 24

As the number of coronavirus cases around the globe continued to climb, the Trump administration began preparing for the virus to arrive in the United States. The White House asked Congress to allocate $1.25 billion in new emergency funds to bolster its preparedness — a significant escalation in the administration’s response. At this point the United States, where Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials warned of an almost certain outbreak, had 35 confirmed cases and no deaths.

FEB. 24


A number of other countries in the Middle East have reported coronavirus cases that have been linked back to Iran.
Credit…Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Iran said it had 61 coronavirus cases and 12 deaths, more than any other country but China, and public health experts warned that Iran was a cause for worry — its borders are crossed each year by millions of religious pilgrims, migrant workers and others. Cases in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and one in Canada, have been traced back to Iran.

FEB. 26

Brazilian health officials said that a 61-year-old São Paulo man, who had returned recently from a business trip to Italy, tested positive for the coronavirus. It was the first known case in Latin America. Officials also began tracking down other passengers on the flight the man took to Brazil and others who had contact with him in recent days.


Continue reading the main story

FEB. 28

Italy, where 800 people had been infected by Feb. 28, remained an area of concern. Cases in 14 other countries, including Northern Ireland and Wales, could be traced back to Italy. Germany had nearly 60 cases by Feb. 27, and France reported 57, more than triple the number from two days earlier. Both England and Switzerland reported additional cases, while Belarus, Estonia and Lithuania all reported their first infections.

FEB. 28


Nigeria’s first confirmed case was an Italian citizen returning to the country.
Credit…Pius Utomi Ekpei/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Feb. 28. The patient was an Italian citizen who had returned to Lagos from Milan.

FEB. 29

A patient near Seattle became the first coronavirus patient to die in the United States on Feb. 28. As the number of global cases rose to nearly 87,000, the Trump administration issued its highest-level warning, known as a “do not travel” warning, for areas in Italy and South Korea most affected by the virus. The government also banned all travel to Iran and barred entry to any foreign citizen who had visited Iran in the previous 14 days.


The C.D.C. lifted all federal restrictions on testing for the coronavirus on March 3, according to Vice President Mike Pence. The news came after the C.D.C.’s first attempt to produce a diagnostic test kit fell flat. By this point, the coronavirus had infected more than 90,000 around the globe and killed about 3,000, according to the W.H.O.


In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, Mr. Trump said he would halt travelers from European countries other than Britain for 30 days, as the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic and stock markets plunged further.


Continue reading the main story



President Trump, who declared a national emergency, made millions of dollars in funds available to states.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Mr. Trump officially declared a national emergency, and said he was making $50 billion in federal funds available to states and territories to combat the coronavirus. He also said he would give hospitals and doctors more flexibility to respond to the virus, including making it easier to treat people remotely.



Central Park on March 18. President Trump advised citizens to avoid groups of more than 10.
Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

On March 15, the C.D.C. advised no gatherings of 50 or more people in the United States over the next eight weeks. The recommendation included weddings, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events and conferences. The following day, Mr. Trump advised citizens to avoid groups of more than 10. New York City’s public schools system, the nation’s largest with 1.1 million students, also announced that it would close.


Several countries across Latin America imposed restrictions on their citizens to slow the spread of the virus. Venezuela announced a nationwide quarantine that began on March 17. Ecuador and Peru implemented countrywide lockdowns, while Colombia and Costa Rica closed their borders. However, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, encouraged mass demonstrations by his supporters against his opponents in congress.


On March 17, France imposed a nationwide lockdown, prohibiting gatherings of any size and postponing the second round its municipal elections. The lockdown was one of Europe’s most stringent. While residents were told to stay home, officials allowed people to go out for fresh air but warned that meeting a friend on the street or in a park would be punishable with a fine. By this time, France had more than 6,500 infections with more than 140 deaths, according to the W.H.O.



The European Union adopted a 30-day ban on non-essential travel to at least 26 European countries from the rest of the world.
Credit…Maria Contreras Coll for The New York Times

European leaders voted to close off at least 26 countries to nearly all visitors from the rest of the world for at least 30 days. The ban on nonessential travel from outside the bloc was the first coordinated response to the epidemic by the European Union.


Continue reading the main story


China on March 19 reported no new local infections for the previous day, a milestone in the ongoing fight against the pandemic. The news signaled that an end to China’s epidemic could be in sight.

However, experts said the country would need to see at least 14 consecutive days without new infections for the outbreak to be considered over. And the announcement did not mean that China recorded no new coronavirus cases. Officials said that 34 new cases had been confirmed among people who had arrived in China from elsewhere.


On March 21, the White House said that American companies wereincreasing efforts to restock hospitals with important supplies. Hanes and General Motors agreed to make masks and ventilators. Christian Siriano, a fashion designer, Dov Charney, the founder of Los Angeles Apparel, and Karla Colletto, a swimwear company, all agreed to repurpose their operations to create masks and hospital garments.



Gov. David Ige of Hawaii issued a mandatory two-week quarantine for anyone arriving in the state.
Credit…Caleb Jones/Associated Press

Gov. David Ige of Hawaii ordered a mandatory 14-day quarantinefor everyone arriving in Hawaii, including tourists and returning residents. Mr. Ige called his order the first of its kind in the nation.


The lockdown closed all nonessential shops, barred meetings of more than two people, and required all people to stay in their homes except for trips for food or medicine. Those who disobey risked being fined by the police.


Officials announced that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo would be postponed for one year. Only three previous Games had been canceled, all because of war: The 1916 Summer Olympics were canceled because of World War I, and the Summer and Winter Games were canceled in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II.


Continue reading the main story



India ordered a three-week lockdown order for its 1.3 billion citizens, and officials pledged to spend billions on medical supplies.
Credit…Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

One day after the authorities halted all domestic flights, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, declared a 21-day lockdown. While the number of reported cases in India was about 500, the prime minister pledged to spend about $2 billion on medical supplies, isolation rooms, ventilators and training for medical professionals.


The United States officially became the country hardest hit by the pandemic, with at least 81,321 confirmed infections and more than 1,000 deaths. This was more reported cases than in China, Italy or any other country.


Mr. Trump signed a $2 trillion measure to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers said the bill, which passed with overwhelming support, was imperfect but essential to address the national public health and economic crisis.


The C.D.C. urged residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to “refrain from nonessential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” The advisory did not apply to workers in “critical infrastructure industries,” including trucking, public health, financial services and food supply.


Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., issued orders requiring their residents to stay home. Similar orders went into effect for Kansas and North Carolina. Other states had previously put strict measures in place. The new orders meant that least 265 million Americans were being urged to stay home.


By April 2, the pandemic had sickened more than 1 million people in 171 countries across six continents, killing at least 51,000.


Continue reading the main story

In just a few weeks, the pandemic put nearly 10 million Americans out of work, including a staggering 6.6 million people who applied for unemployment benefits in the last week of March. The speed and scale of the job losses was without precedent: Until March, the worst week for unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982.


The C.D.C. urged all Americans to wear a mask when they leave their homes. However, the advice was undercut by Mr. Trump, who repeatedly called the recommendation voluntary and said that he would not wear one himself. “With the masks, it’s going to be a voluntary thing,” the president said. “You an do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it. It may be good. It’s only a recommendation, voluntary.”


Ten days after going public with his coronavirus diagnosis, Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain was moved into intensive care. The decision was a precaution, according to the British government, who also said he had been in good spirits. Mr. Johnson had also asked the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, to deputize for him “where necessary.”


At least two dozen companies have announced vaccine programsaimed at ending the pandemic, including Novavax, a Maryland-based biotech firm that said it would begin human trials in Australia in mid-May. Johnson & Johnson plans to start clinical trials in September, Moderna began a clinical trial for its vaccine in March, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals injected its trial vaccine into the first volunteers in April.


By April 10, the coronavirus had killed more than 101,000 people around the globe and infected at least 1.6 million. With more than 18,000 fatalities related to the virus and nearly 500,000 cases, the United States’ toll surpassed that of Spain.


The number of people hospitalized in Moscow with Covid-19 doubled from the previous week, with two-thirds of the country’s 12,000 reported cases in Moscow. The increase in cases pushed Moscow’s health care system to its limit, well before an expected peak.


Mr. Johnson, Britain’s prime minister, was released from the hospital on April 12 after a stay in the intensive care unit battling Covid-19. In a video posted on Twitter, he credited the National Health Service with saving his life, calling it “the beating heart of this country.”