Coronavirus: A timeline of the outbreak related to the deadly Sars - February 2020

  • The latest news and statistics about the Covid-19 pandemic
  • The novel coronavirus has symptoms that include fever, tiredness, a sore throat and dry coughs
Susan Ramsay |

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German football team makes a statement at Fifa World Cup in Qatar

Here’s the latest:

2019 - January March April May June July August September October November December January 2021

February 29

As of noon today, 85,176 people are infected with Covid-19. Deaths are 2,923 and 39,426 people have recovered. The area tallies are as follows:

Mainland China, 79,251 with 2,835 dead, South Korea: 2,931 with 16 dead, Italy 888 with 21 dead, Diamond Princess: 705 with 6 dead,  Iran: 388 with 34 dead, Japan: 235 with 5 dead,  Singapore: 98 cases, Hong Kong: 94 cases, two dead, USA 60 cases, France 57 cases with two dead, Germany: 53 cases, Kuwait: 45 cases, Thailand: 41 cases, Bahrain: 36 cases, Taiwan: 34 cases with 1 death. Spain: 32 cases, Malaysia: 25 cases, Australia: 24 cases, Britain: 20 cases, UAE: 19 cases, Vietnam: 16 cases, Canada: 14 cases, Macau: 10 cases, Iraq: 8 cases, Sweden: 7 cases, Oman: 6, Croatia: 5 cases, Russia: 5 case, Switzerland: 5 case, Greece: 4 case, Israel: 4 cases, India: 3 cases, Lebanon: 3 cases, Philippines: 3 cases, one dead, Romania: 3 cases, Austria: 2 cases, Finland: 2 cases, Georgia: 2 cases, Mexico: 2 cases, Netherlands: 2, Pakistan: 2 case. 1 confirmed case: Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Monaco, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Sri Lanka.

Google restricts staff travel and discovers an employee in its Zurich office is infected.

Armenia, Czechia,  Dominican Republic, St Barth, Saint Martin all report their first cases.

February 28

As of 8am today, 82,731 people are infected with Covid-19. Deaths are 2,814 and 33,276 have recovered. The area tallies are as follows:

Mainland China, 78,498 with 2,744 deaths, South Korea: 1,766 with 13 deaths, Diamond Princess: 705 with four dead, Italy 655 with 17 deaths, Iran: 245 with 26 deaths, Japan: 189 with 4 deaths,  Singapore: 93 cases only, Hong Kong: 91 with two deaths, USA 60 cases only, Germany: 46 cases only, Kuwait: 43 cases only, Thailand: 40 cases only, France 38 with two deaths, Bahrain: 33 cases only, Taiwan: 32 with 1 death. Australia: 23 cases only, Malaysia: 22 cases only,  Vietnam: 16 cases only, Britain: 15 cases only, Spain: 15 cases only, Canada: 13 cases only, UAE: 13 cases only, Macau: 10 cases only, Switzerland: 8 case only, Iraq: 7 cases only, Sweden: 7 cases only, Oman: 4 cases only, Austria: 3 cases only, Croatia: 3 cases only, Greece: 3 case only, India: 3 cases only, Israel: 3 cases only, Philippines: 3 with one death,  Finland: 2 cases only, Lebanon: 2 cases only, Pakistan: 2 cases only, Russia: 2 cases only, Afghanistan: 1 case only,  Algeria: 1 case only, Belgium: 1 case only, Brazil 1 case only, Cambodia: 1 case only, Denmark: 1 case only, Egypt: 1 case only, Estonia: 1 case only, Georgia: 1 case only, Nepal: 1 case only, Netherlands: 1 case only, North Macedonia: 1 case only, Norway: one cae only, Romania: 1 case only, San Marino: 1 case only, Sri Lanka: 1 case only.

China introduces more controls in Beijing where authorities announce that supermarkets must allow an average of two square metres per customer. The move limits the number of people in a shop at any given times but forces shoppers to queue outside.  The city as also clamped down on the number of visitors to its parks. Ten of the capital’s top parks, including the historic Summer Palace, will cap the number of visitors at any given time to 30 percent of their maximum capacity, said Xinhua. Cinemas in the city are allowed to re-open but must sell “non-adjacent tickets” in every other row. Stores and restaurants have to slash three hours off their operating hours. The restrictions and cuts come at a time when the cost of doing business is increased and there are far fewer customers around.

K-pop superstar group BTS cancels a series of planned concerts in Seoul in April due to concerns about a soaring viral outbreak in South Korea.

Hong Kong authorities say the they quarantined a pet dog after nasal and oral samples tested positive. The dog did not have any symptoms. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said it will conduct further tests to confirm if the dog had been infected with the virus or if the samples were only the result of environmental contamination. The incident set off a firestorm online of people concerned that this will encourage owners to abandon their pets.

Tokyo Disney closes for two weeks.

US President Donald Trump refers to the virus as "the democrats news hoax".   "The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus… One of my people came up to me and said “Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia, that didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax that was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything, they tried it over and over, they’ve been doing it since you got in… And this is their new hoax.”

In Mexico, some 5,600 people are being held in the port of Cozumel while being checked out for the virus. The MSC Meraviglia docked on Cozumel siland after being turned away at two previous destinations, Jamaica and Grand Cayman, because a crew member and a tourist had been diagnosed with flu.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

Qatar, Ireland, Ecuador, Luxemborg, report their first cases.

February 27

As of 8am today, 81,260 people are infected with Covid-19. Deaths are 2,770 and 30,006 have recovered. The area tallies are as follows:

Mainland China, 78,064 with 2,715 deaths, South Korea: 1,262 with 12 deaths, Diamond Princess: 691 with four dead. Italy 374 with 12 deaths, Japan: 171 with two death, Iran: 139 with 19 deaths, Singapore: 93 cases only, Hong Kong: 91 with two deaths, USA 60 cases only, Thailand: 40 cases only, Bahrain: 33 cases only, Taiwan: 31 with 1 death. Australia: 23 cases only, Malaysia: 22 cases only, France 18 with two deaths, Germany: 18 cases only, Kuwait: 18 cases only, Vietnam: 16 cases only, Britain: 13 cases only, UAE: 13 cases only, Macau: 10 cases only, Canada: 10 cases only,  Spain: 8 cases only, Iraq: 5 cases, cases only, Philippines: 3 with one death, Croatia: 3 cases only, India: 3 cases only,  Austria: 2 cases only, Finland: 1 case only,. Israel: 2 casse only, Oman: 2 cases only, Pakistan: 2 cases only, Russia: 2 cases only, Sweden: 2 cases only, Afghanistan: 1 case only,  Algeria: 1 case only, Belgium: 1 case only, Brazil 1 case only, Cambodia: 1 case only, Egypt: 1 case only, Georgia: 1 case only, Greece: one case only,  Lebanon: 1 case only, Nepal: 1 case only, North Macedonia: 1 case only, Norway: one cae only, Romania: 1 case only, Sri Lanka: 1 case only, Switzerland: 1 case only.

Denmark confirms its first case in a man returning from holiday in Italy. Estonia reports its first case after a resident who returned to the Baltic state from his homeland, Iran. 

Saudi Arabia halts travel to Islam's holiest site, just months ahead of the annual hajj, stopping all foreigners from reaching Mecca and the Kaaba.

Another cruise ship, MS Braemar, is suspected of carrying infected crew and passengers. The vessel docked in the Dominican Republic after a two-week cruise, with 1,500 on board. But no one was allowed to disembark after four Filipinos, two Americans and two Brits were found to have a fever and flu-like symptoms.

A woman in Japan who had Covid-19 and recovered has tested positive again. Japan closes its schools until the end of March.

The US and South Korean militaries announce they are postponing forthcoming joint exercises.

Italy urges tourists not to stay away, saying it is managing the outbreak, but a sharp rise in case numbers did not help their case. By the end of today, 528 infections have been confirmed and 14 deaths. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio condemns “false reports circulating abroad” about panic in the country, saying they were doing “more damage” than the virus itself. “If schools are open, if our children are going to school, tourists and business people can come,” 

Australia decides to consider the outbreak a pandemic, going a step beyond WHO. Australian universities are offering Chinese students stranded in their homeland travel money and discounted tuition and the largest campus delayed the start of the academic year, trying to keep their lucrative enrollments amid a viral epidemic.

Bruce Aylward, leader of a joint WHO-China mission of experts, also warns other nations are “simply not ready” to contain the outbreak.

In Europe, countries neighbouring Italy decide to keep their borders open despite the spread of the virus to Tuscany, Sicily and Liguria. But several governments encourage their nationals to postpone trips.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet
Photo: Reuters

The United Nations says quarantines must be "proportionate" and respect the rights of those in isolation. UN Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet hailed the medical teams around the world working to rein in the COVID-19 outbreak. But she said that respect for human rights needed to guide the response. “All public health measures should be carried out without discrimination of any kind,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said. “Quarantines which restrict the right to freedom of movement should be proportionate to the risk, time-bound and safe,” she said. “The rights of those under quarantine must be protected, including rights to food and clean water, the right to be treated humanely, access to health care, the right to be informed and freedom of expression.”

UN health chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus implores the world to act now to stop the virus from spiraling out of control.

Pope Francis, 83, is said to be suffering from a "mild ailment".

The southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, which neighbours Hong Kong, bans consumption of cats and dogs. Draft regulations puts nine permitted meats on a "white list" with all other meats being banned. The list includes pork, sheep/goats, beef and chicken, duck and goose along with donkey, rabbit, fish and seafood, but excludes snakes, turtles and frogs.

Taiwan authorities accuse mainland Chinese internet trolls of sowing panic over the coronavirus outbreak, with much of the disinformation falsely implying the island has an out of control epidemic. Police say they are investigating a surge of stories spreading online and through social media claiming President Tsai Ing-wen’s government was trying to cover up an outbreak.

China’s winter football transfer window looks poised to close with a whimper on Friday, with Chinese Super League clubs spending just EUR28 million so far, the lowest since 2011. A double blow of the coronavirus and a new salary cap has seen the bottom fall out of China's football’s transfer market, while Odion Ighalo led what could become an exodus of foreign stars. Wages are now capped at EUR3 million a year, and the Chinese Super League on hold over the coronavirus outbreak.

US President Donald Trump predicts: It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

Azerbaijan, Belarus, Iceland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria report their first cases.

February 26

As of 8am today, 80,413 people are infected with Covid-19. Deaths are 2,711 and 27,476 have recovered. The area tallies are as follows:

Mainland China, 77,660 with 2,663 deaths, South Korea: 977 with 11 deaths. Diamond Princess: 691 with four dead. Italy 322 with seven deaths, Japan: 70 with one death, Iran: 95 with 16 deaths, Singapore: 91, zero deaths, Hong Kong: 85 with two deaths, USA 53 with zero deaths, Thailand: 37 with zero deaths, Taiwan: 31 with 1 death. Australia: 23 with zero deaths, Malaysia: 22 with zero deaths, Germany: 18 with zero deaths, Vietnam: 16 with zero deaths, France 14 with one death, Britain: 13 with zero deaths, UAE: 13 with zero deaths, Macau: 10 with zero deaths, Canada: 10, with zero deaths, Bahrain: 8  with zero deaths, Kuwait: 9 with zero deaths, Iraq: 5 cases, zero deaths, Philippines: 3 with one death, India: 3 cases only,  Spain: 3 cases only, Austria: 2 cases, zero deaths, Oman: 2 cases only, Russia: 2 cases only, Afghanistan: 1 case only,  Algeria: 1 case only, Belgium: 1 case only, Cambodia: 1 case only, Egypt: 1 case only, Finland: 1 case only. Israel: 1 case only, Lebanon: 1 case only, Nepal: 1 case only, Sri Lanka: 1 case only, Sweden: 1 case only, Switzerland: 1 case only..

South Korea reports 169 new infections over night, and one more death. Authorities start checks on more than 200,000 members of the Shincheonji religious sect.

Cambodia offers tourists special deals to visit Angkor temple park.

Pope Francis, 83, is seen blowing his nose and coughing during the Ash Wednesday service. His voice sounds hoarse.  He celebrates morning mass as usual, greeting participants at the end, but clears his diary of everything apart from meetings at the Vatican. The pope has not dialed back any of his activities which often involve mingling with crowds and shaking hands. He lost part of a lung as a young man, and although he suffers from sciatica he very rarely misses appointments.

Japan's health minister Katsunobu Kato says dozens of people allowed to disembark from the cruise ship Diamond Princess have symptoms. Japan's Olympics boss, Toshiro Muto says there is no plan to scrap the summer Olympics due to be held in Tokyo. "We have not thought about it," he says. The Davis Cup match against Equador, however, will be played behind closed doors next week.

San Francisco mayor London Breed declares a state of emergency in the city, even though there are no confirmed cases. "We need to step-up preparedness," he says in statement. Hours later, San Francisco registers its first case.

The US CDC confirms community transmission.

US President Donald Trump addresses the nation on the virus saying "There's a chance it won't spread".  Minutes later, California confirmed a new case that might be the first instance of a non-travel related infection. Previously all cases in the US were imported from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, and two people who had close contact with them. The case in San Francisco had not been on the ship nor travelled to China and was not exposed to someone who was infected. Trump taps Vice-president Mike Pence to be is virus czar.

“We’re going to be pretty soon at only 5 people, and we could be at just 1 or 2 people over the next short period of time” — Trump on US coronavirus cases on February 26. There are in fact already more than 25,000 cases.

Medical workers in China are being infected at a high rate, but others are dying from exhaustionThey include Song Yingjie, a 28-year-old pharmacist, who was single-handedly managing his hospital’s medicine prescriptions, then checking temperatures at a highway stop at night. He worked until midnight on February 2, standing on the roadside in freezing wind, according to a colleague who was with him. It was his 10th consecutive day on the virus response team. He was found dead in his hospital dormitory the next afternoon. The cause was cardiac arrest from exhaustion. Another was Wang Tucheng, 37, a village doctor in Henan’s Xinwangzhuang village who was found dead on February 10 in his clinic. His diagnosis was also cardiac arrest due to overwork and fatigue. In Nanjing, Xu Hui, leader of a hospital’s virus control group, worked for 18 days straight, then went home after a meeting on February 6, “lay down and never got up,” according to state media. She was 51. Exhaustion is one reason medical workers have high vulnerability to infection, said John Nicholls, a Hong Kong University pathologist who worked on the 2003 SARS outbreak (he never saw deaths from overwork during SARS, though). Others include lack of training in personal protective equipment, contaminated surfaces, close contact with sick patients, and — perhaps most pertinent to China’s situation — people operating outside their area of expertise.

Speaking at a news conference organized by China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO), Du Hangwei, vice minister of China’s public security bureau, says many local officers had implemented anti-virus measures which, while effective, had prevented people from leaving compounds or even going downstairs. Du describes these measures as “excessive enforcement, simplistic enforcement, crude enforcement”. He adds that the relevant departments have demanded local security bureaus rectify such enforcement measures. Over the past several weeks, media reports have surfaced in China showing police violently breaking up small gatherings, or physically threatening individuals who do not wear facemasks.

Denmark, Estonia, San Marino, Netherlands confirm their first cases. 

February 25

As of 9am today, 79,571 are infected with Covid-19. Some 2,630 people have died and 25,948 have recovered.

Mainland China, 77,658 with 2,663 deaths, Japan: 838 with four deaths, South Korea: 833 with eight death, Italy 229 with seven deaths, Singapore: 90, zero deaths, Hong Kong: 81 with two deaths, Iran: 47 with 12 deaths, Thailand: 35 with zero deaths, US: 35 with zero deaths, Australia: 23 with zero deaths, Malaysia: 22 with zero deaths, Germany: 16 with zero deaths, Vietnam: 16 with zero deaths, Britain: 13 with zero deaths, France 12 with one death, UAE: 11 with zero deaths, Macau: 10 with zero deaths, Canada: 10, with zero deaths, Philippines: 3 with one death, India:3 cases only, Kuwait: 3 cases only, Spain: 3 cases only, Oman: 2 cases only, Russia: 2 cases only, Afghanistan: 1 case only, Bahrain: 1 case only, Belgium: 1 case only, Cambodia: 1 case only, Egypt: 1 case only, Finland: 1 case only. Israel: 1 case only, Kuwait: 1 case only., Lebanon: 1 case only, Nepal: 1 case only, Sri Lanka: 1 case only, Sweden: 1 case only.

Croatia, Austria, Switzerland, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Afghanistan record their first cases. Brazil flags possible case which, if confirmed, would be the first case in South America. Algeria reports its first case, a man who arrived from Italy. Romania reports first case. Norway, Greece, North Macedonia, Georgia and Pakistan all report first cases. A hotel in Tenerife with 1,000 guests is placed in quarantine after coronavirus is confirmed.

Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi (L) wipes the sweat off his face, during a press conference with the Islamic republic's government spokesman Ali Rabiei in the capital Tehran on February 24.
Photo: Agence France-Presse

Local officials in Iran says death toll stands at 50, raising concerns of a cover-up and whether the country will be able to cope with the crisis. Calls for US to ease restrictions to allow China and other Tehran-friendly countries to provide emergency aid. Iran's Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, who heads the taskforce to combat the virus, admits that he has tested positive.

Shanghai companies begin production of face masks that can be reused up to 10 times  The new KN95 masks, which are not yet for sale, are said to have high air permeability and to be waterproof. Manufacturers Shanghai Economic and Information Technology Committee say the mask can maintain its filtering ability after being disinfected multiple times. The factories are now making 100,000 masks per day, and output is expected to reach 300,000 per day on Friday. They will be priced at 15 to 25 yuan (US$2.14 to $3.56).

Hong Kong announces that school suspensions will continue until at least April 20.

More than 400 Filipinos from the cruise ship MV Diamond Princess will head back to the Philippines. 13 people will die from infections on the Diamond Princess

US President Donald Trump asks Congress for  US$2.5 billion in Cornavirus response.

Snippet of humanity

The death of Wuhan front-line nurse Liu Fan, 49, is a diary of how cruel and ravenous the virus is. Liu’s brother, Chang Kai, a film director, wrote a final letter describing what had happened to his family. All four were infected with the virus after being quarantined at home in close quarters. Unable to get a hospital bed amid Wuhan’s shortage, Chang’s father died at home on Feb. 3. His mother died Feb. 8. Addressing his son in London, Chang’s letter reads: “I went to hospitals begging and weeping, but I am too low and insignificant. … All my life I’ve been a faithful son, a responsible father, a loving husband, an honest person. Farewell! To those I love and those who love me.” Chang died on February 14; Liu hours later. 

February 24

As of 7 am today, 78,979 people are infected with Covid-19. Some 2,468 have died and 23,385 recovered. Hot spots include Iran:43, Japan: 838 and South Korea: 602.

China postpones top annual political meetings amid coronavirus epidemic. No new date is set for NPC and CPPCC gatherings. Many of the delegates are local officials and ‘need to focus on fighting disease’

Wall Street plunges on coronavirus pandemic fears after surge in cases outside China. Dow drops more than 1,000 points, with S&P 500 and Nasdaq also reporting large percentage declines.

United States President Donald Trump tweets: "he Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!"

Austria has blocked all trains from crossing into the country from Italy. 

Even though the Carnival in Venice has been cancelled, tourists still like to dress up for selfies, like this one in front of the Bridge of Sighs.
Photo: Agence France-Presse

In Italy, the Venice Carnival is cancelled as is the Armani fashion show. Italy has recorded three deaths so far.

China eases quarantine restrictions slightly in Wuhan. The city has been in lockdown since January 23. Non-residents may leave if they show no symptoms of the virus and have not had any contact with patients. People with special reason to leave the city may also leave. Departures will be staggered and people need to apply through local authorities before they go.Three hours later the decision is reversed when China's death toll figures for Sunday are released, showing a 55 per cent increase. Guangdong, which neighbours Hong Kong, has been the second worst-hit province after Hubei, with 1,345 confirmed cases of infection and six deaths lowers its alert level.

The Overwatch League announces it is postponing three weeks’ worth of scheduled matches in Seoul. The league previously postponed matches scheduled for three cities in China this month and rescheduled them for March in Seoul. Those matches, along with previously scheduled home dates for the Seoul Dynasty, have now been postponed. This is the first year for OWL’s unprecedented global schedule including host matches for its 20 city-based franchises in Asia, North America and Europe. The Dynasty are the only franchise based in esports-obsessed South Korea. The team had planned to host matches spanning March 7-22 at the landmark Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The next Overwatch League matches scheduled in Seoul are May 9-10. 

February 23

As of 9 am today, 78,620 people are confirmed positive for Covid-19. Of those, 76,926 are in mainland China, 433 in South Korea, 122 in Japan, 85 in Singapore, 79 in Italy, 69 in Hong Kong, 35 in Thailand, 35 in the US, 28 in Taiwan and 28 in Iran. Some 2,634 people have died and 28,937 have recovered.

A dramatic surge in untraceable cases suggests that the virus has spread too widely to be contained and stamped out, experts say. The newest red flag is the cluster of 28 cases in Iran, where five people have died. The WHO has not yet officially called it a pandemic.

Iran's death toll reaches eight, the highest outside mainland China, and its neighbours impose travel bans.

South Korea raises its virus alert level to "red" to strengthen the government's response.

China's President Xi Jinping said the epidemic was the “largest public health emergency” since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. 

US President Donald Trump reassures Americans as he is about to leave for India. "We’re very much involved. We’re very — very cognizant of everything going on. We have it very much under control in this country."

February 22

As of 11am today, 77,659 people are  infected with the coronavirus, 2,360 have died and 20,856 have recovered. Of those, 76,288 in mainland China, 204 in South Korea, 105 in Japan, 85 in Singapore, 68 in Hong Kong and 18 in Iran.

A patient in China who had the virus, and was allowed to go home after two negative tests, immediately went into self isolation, and tested positive 10 days later.

By 5 pm, South Korea's reported cases stand at 433.

The area of Lombardy in Italy is locked down as two people die, infections skyrockets to more than 30. Italy starts work on a field hospital.

Four districts in Harbin, China are put on lockdown.  Xiang Nijuan, a researcher at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, says in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, that people could be infectious two days before they show symptoms of the disease. 

February 21

As of 8.30 am, 76,200 people globally are currently infected with the coronavirus. Some 18,122 have recovered and 2,247 have died. 

The global breakdown of cases is as follows:

Mainland China: 75,000, Others (mostly from the Diamond Princess): 634, South Korea: 104, Japan: 94, Singapore: 84, Hong Kong: 68, Thailand: 35, Taiwan: 24, Malaysia: 22, Germany: 16, Vietnam: 16, Australia: 15, USA: 15, France: 12, Macau: 10. UAE: 9, UK: 9, Canada: 8, Iran: 5, Italy: 3, Philippines: 3, India: 3, Russia: 2, Spain: 2, Nepal: 1. Cambodia: 1, Belgium: 1, Finland: 1, Sweden: 1, Egypt: 1, Sri Lanka: 1, Israel 1.

Peng Yinhua, 29, a doctor on the frontlines in Wuhan, who delayed his wedding to fight the virus, dies. He worked at  Jiangxia district’s First People’s Hospital, where he took ill. He was admitted to hospital on January 25. A 17 day old girl in China recovers without medication after being born positive.

Scientists at Greffex, a Houston, Texas-based genetic engineering company, claim they've created a coronavirus vaccine and it is ready for animal testing and review by US regulators. 

Israel flags its first confirmed case, a patient from the Diamond Princess.

Lebanon flags its first confirmed case - a woman, 45, who travelled from Qom in Iran.

Italy flags its first death from Covid-19, a 78 year old man.

In China, pockets of infection are found in prisons. The Wuhan Women's Prison reports 230 cases. The warden has been fired. Seven guards and 200 inmates tested positive in Rencheng prison in eastern Shandong province. The head of Shandong's justice department is sacked along with two other provincial prison administration officials and five officials from the actual prison. Shelifeng prison in Zhejiang province reported  32 cases. One of its directors and another official are fired. Members of China’s Uighur minority living in exile have also warned of the risk of the coronavirus spreading in internment camps, where rights groups say more than one million people have been rounded up by authorities.

Workers inspect surgical masks in a factory in Hong Kong. Faced with shortages in the midst of a virus outbreak, Hong Kongers have started making their own face masks, from professional factories to seamstresses churning out coverings on sewing machines.
Photo: Agence France-Presse

In Hong Kong, where face masks are in very short supply, people are finding alternatives, from rigging their own out of handkerchiefs, to sewing resuables and even importing the machinery to start production. A set of 50 simple surgical masks can sell for up to HK$300 (US$40), while the top of the range N95 variety is going for as high as HK$1,800 a box. A film director surnamed Tong was this week putting the finishing touches to a face mask assembly line in an industrial building. “I was shocked by the price of face masks,” he told AFP“I did some research and realised that masks are not that difficult to make. Why do people have to bear such a high cost? Because there is no production line in Hong Kong”. With the help of an investor he managed to import a machine from India, and plans to ship more. Currently in the testing phase, the device will produce 60-80 surgical masks per minute from Saturday in a dust-free room. Tong said the masks will be sold online for HK$1-2 each, limited to one box per person. 

Some 59 Hong Kong police officers are quarantined after a banquet with an infected colleague. Some protesters celebrate on the city streets, by offering passers-by Corona beers. Social media is inundated with messages from people vowing to drink champagne after month of acrimonious protests wracked the city.

In Bacalod, in the Philippines, 230 couples are wed in a mass marriage ceremony, where everyone, including the couples, had to wear masks.

Two Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship test positive at home, after being cleared in Japan. The nightmare of a 14-day quarantine is ending for most passengers on the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship, but it is far from over for the more than 1,000 crew. While passengers on board were confined to their cabins around the clock apart from an hour of fresh air on deck, most crew did not undergo quarantine as they were needed to keep the ship running. They were preparing food and delivering meals to cabins, leading some critics to charge they were inadvertently spreading the virus throughout the ship, which has seen more than 600 cases of the potentially deadly COVID-19 disease. As they have been in close contact with possibly infected passengers, the crew is expected to undergo a 14-day quarantine starting when the last passenger leaves the ship. 

In South Korea, health officials use bike-mounted guns to spay disinfectant in front of the Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church.
Photo: Agence France-Presse

A church whose leader claims he is an angel of Jesus has become the biggest cluster of viral infections in South Korea, where a surge in new cases raises fears that the outbreak is getting out of control. A total of 110 cases of the new virus, including the country’s first death, have been found in the southeast city of Daegju and nearby areas since Wednesday. Of those, about 70% have been linked to a Daegu branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where two recent services were attended by a previously confirmed patient. Little is known about the “patient zero“ except that the woman in her early 60s had no recent record of overseas travel and was diagnosed with pneumonia last weekend. She had initially resisted doctors’ recommendations to get tested for the virus. Shincheonji, which claims 200,000 followers in South Korea, said it closed all of its 74 churches around the nation and told members to instead watch its services on YouTube.  By 7 pm, South Korea's infections have rocketed to 208, making it the third most heavily infected nation after China and Japan.

North Korea cancels the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

February 20

As of 8.30 am today, 75,641 are currently infected with Covid-29, a massive drop in overnight infections for the epicentre Hubei which only recorded 349 new cases. Some 16,121 people have recovered and 2,122 have died. Health authorities in China have reversed their decision to count clinically diagnosed patients as confirmed cases. Only 394 new cases were recorded over 24 hours.

Two passengers from the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship die in Japan.

South Korea reports first deatth, with 82 confirmed cases. The mayor of Daegu urges the city's 2.5 million people to refrain from going outside.

Interest in disease-themed movies, games and TV series explodes, with worried viewers turning to documentaries and disaster flicks for answers and ways to cope. In the last few weeks Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 thriller Contagion. Has stormed up the iTunes movie download charts. In Hong Kong, which features heavily in the film about a runaway virus, it is at number 8. Ndemic Creations, makers of the game Plague Inc, have seen a spike in downloads. Even though the game is eight years old, any time there is an outbreak that sparks global news coverage, people turn to the popular mobile game, that allows players to create and control pathogens.  Netflix's release of their docuseries Pandemic could not have been better timed.

In Ukraine, efforts to quarantine more than 70 people evacuated from China descended into chaos when locals hurl stones at the buses transporting them and clash with police. The country's health minister, Zoryana Skaletska says she will spend the 14 days quarantine with the 34 nationals and 37 foreigners. She says she has been shaken by the aggression. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov arrived at the scene and Prime Minister Oleksiy Goncharuk said late Thursday he was also heading to the town.

Chinese scientists publish a report stating that the virus did not start in the seafood market, as suspected, but had only been amplified by getting into the market. Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Institute for Brain Research sequenced the genomic data of 93 SARS-CoV-2 samples provided by 12 countries in a bid to track down the source of the infection and understand how it spreads. What they found was that while the virus had spread rapidly within the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, there had also been two major population expansions on December 8 and January 6. It could have been spreading person-to-person as early as November. Although China’s National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 2 emergency warning about the new coronavirus on January 6, the information was not widely shared.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

February 19

As of 8 am this morning, 75,184 people are infected with Covid-29, 14,352 have recovered and the death toll is 2007. 74,135 of those infections are in mainland China, 542 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship anchored in Yokohama, and 62 in Hong Kong. In Hubei, 132 people died in the last 24 hour reporting period, with 1,693 new confirmed cases. While the spread of the virus outside Hubei seems to be slowing, it continues unabated in the central Chinese province. 

China cuts its benchmark lending rate to support its economy. Gold hits seven-year high. Palladium holds near a record after building on a powerful rally.

China releases a huge virus study that hints the the outbreak might be peaking. Once again WHO congratulates China on its policies that largely muzzled the spread of the disease overseas. Protective suit-clad inspectors go door to door in Wuhan with the goal of finding "every infected person in the city". “This must be taken seriously,“ says Wang Zhonglin, the city’s newly minted Communist Party secretary. “If a single new case is found [after Wednesday], the district leaders will be held responsible.”

China's National Health Commission reverses its decision to count clinically diagnosed patients as confirmed cases - something which was responsible for a massive spike in case numbers. Going forward, infections will again be confirmed solely on traditional nucleic acid tests. The move raises doubt about the veracity of official numbers. The number of new cases confirmed in China outside of Hubei stands at 45. Hubei reported 279 cases. Provinces, regions and municipalities that reported no new confirmed cases on Wednesday included Liaoning, Fujian, Shanxi, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Guizhou, Ningxi, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai.  In the eastern province of Zhejiang, with the exception of the city of Wenzhou, buses on hundreds of routes are allowed to resume operations. In the tourist hot spot of Sanya in the southern island province of Hainan, tourist sites - except for indoor venues such as theatres and museums - are allowed to re-open for business.

Activist hold a placard of missing citizen journalist Fang Bin, as they protest outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong on February 19, 2020, against Beijing’s detention of prominent anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong.
Photo: Agence France-Presse

Hong Kong reports its second death this morning, a 70-year-old who had underlying health issues. Local radio broadcaster RTHK's satirical show Headliner causes consternation as an opposition lawmaker Leung Ka-wing, takes their "report" that police are hoarding anti-virus supplies for themselves seriously. Pro-police protesters gathered outside the station's headquarters to demand it be shut down for promoting hatred. China revokes 3 Wall Street Journal reporters' credentials after it doesn't like the headline "Real Sick Man of Asia" of an article that was opinion about the outbreak. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says the headline “smears the efforts of the Chinese government and people on fighting (the virus) epidemic." and "The editors used such a racially discriminatory title, triggering indignation and condemnation among the Chinese people and the international community.” In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, China was dubbed "the sick man of Asia" for its internal strife. The term is considered to mock the Chinese government and people for being weak.

Two days before elections bring million millions of people into public buildings, Iran announces the first confirmed cases, and within hours reports two deaths. 

Malaysian police say Low Taek Jho, commonly known as Jho Low, the fugitive financier wanted over a massive graft scandal was last seen in Wuhan. Low, accused of playing a major role in plundering billions of dollars from sovereign wealth fun 1Malaysia Development Berhad, has long been on the run. Money looted from the fund was used to buy everything from a super-yacht to art, in a fraud that allegedly involved former leader Najib Razak, and contributed to his government's downfall in 2018.

South Korea reports 20 new confirmed cases, seeing its tally jump by two-thirds in one day. A cluster of 16 cases is centred in the southern city of Daegu. Fifteen of the cases are apparently linked to one woman, 61, 14 through her church and another through the hospital. The country now has 51 cases.

Russia announces a ban on all Chinese nationals entering the country.

Qatar accuses Saudi Arabia of blocking officials from the Gulf virus summit.

One of the first passengers to disembark from the Diamond Princess in Yokohama, Japan, is mobbed by reporters.
Photo: EPA

Japanese doctor Kentaro Iwato tells CNN he has boarded the Diamond Princess and is horrified there is no professional infection control officer on board and the ship is not divided into red and green zones. The remaining passengers on the ship are due to leave today. Japan faces mounting criticism for its handling of a coronavirus-afflicted cruise ship, with questions over a patchy quarantine, incremental testing and the decision to let people walk away after 14 days. The 3,711 people on the Diamond Princess went into quarantine off Japan on February 5, after it emerged that a former passenger had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Passengers were confined to cabins except for brief outings on deck, when they were required to wear masks and gloves and keep their distance from each other. But doubts soon emerged about whether the measures were working. Dozens of people on board were quickly diagnosed with the virus, and by Tuesday, 542 cases were reported. While passengers were confined to their cabins, those with balconies could sometimes be seen talking to neighbours without masks. And crew were not quarantined, sharing working spaces, living quarters and bathrooms, and simply donning masks and gloves when interacting with passengers. 

Nearly 800 passengers from the Westerdam which was allowed to dock in Cambodia, have tested negative.

Experts say that while Covid-19 is easy to catch, deadlier than the flu, not as deadly as SARS or MERS. Men have a higher risk of dying. Higher risk of catching it, medical staff, people's whose immune systems are compromised.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

February 18

As of 8am, 73,348 people are infected with Covid-19, 1,868 people have died and 12,583 have recovered. China reports 1,886 new virus cases and 98 more deaths in its update. 

Liu Zhiming, director of Wuchang Hospital, dies.

The Who says the latest data from China may point to declining virus spread.

A Hong Kong policeman, 48, tests positive after a banquet with colleagues. A domestic helper in Hong Kong has tested positive for the virus, taking the city's infections to 61. She works for a 67-year-old woman who was confirmed infected on February 13. Health authorities previously revealed that the employer had been to a meal at Star Seafood Restaurant in North Point, which had also been attended by 28 other people.

Taiwan begs the World Health Organisation not to be kidnapped by China's agenda. While the mainland has recorded more than 73,000 cases, Taiwan has only recorded 22, and feels it should not be subject to the same travel bans that affect the mainland. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, while Taiwan claims it is independent. Taiwan has been blocked from WHO membership.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen defended his decision to allow US cruise ship Westerdam to dock despite at least one passenger later being diagnosed with the virus, while authorities scrambled to track down hundreds that came in contact with her. The Westerdam had been turned away from several Asian ports before being allowed to dock in Cambodia and its passengers and crew to disembark. But, at the weekend, an 83-year-old American woman was stopped at a Malaysian airport and diagnosed as having Covid-19. By that time scores of fellow passengers had moved through different countries, including Singapore and Thailand. 

TEPCO, the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may need to wear plastic raincoats as the outbreak threatens the production of protective suits. Tepco says the change would not place workers in more danger as radiation penetrates clothing in any case.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

February 17

As off 11 am this morning, 71,329 people are currently infected with Covid-19, 1,775 have died and 10,972 have recovered. 

Figures are dispersed as follows: Mainland China: 1,770 deaths, 70,548 currently infected, Hong Kong: 57 cases, 1 death, Taiwan: 20 cases 1 death,  Macau: 10 cases, Japan: 415 cases (including 355 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked at Yokohama), 1 death, Singapore: 75 cases, Thailand: 34, South Korea: 30, Malaysia: 22, Vietnam: 16, Germany: 16, US: 15, Australia: 14, France: 12 cases, 1 death, Britain: 9 cases, UAE: 8, Canada: 8, Philippines: 3 cases, 1 death, India: 3 cases, Italy : 3, Russia: 2, Spain: 2, Belgium: 1, Nepal: 1, Sri Lanka: 1, Sweden: 1, Cambodia: 1, Finland: 1, Egypt: 1.

Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention published a study of earlier cases of the disease, finding that more than 80% of people infected had mild illness and the number of new infections seems to be falling since early this month. 

Armed robbers who stole hundreds of toilet rolls were being hunted by Hong Kong police, in a city wracked by shortages caused by the virus panic-buying. Toilet rolls have become hot property in the densely packed business hub, despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected. Two people are arrested.

Doctor Liu Zhiming, the head of Wuchang hospital in Wuhan is reported dead by media, but the hospital claims to be still working on his resussitation.

Missing citizen journalist Chen Qiushi weeps as he describes conditions in a video taken in Wuhan. The video was taken February 4, 2020, and released by Chen to the Associated Press.
Photo: Courtesy of Chen Qiushi via AP

Japan cancells the Emperor's birthday, which usually sees thousands of people head to central Tokyo to celebrate. China considers postponing its annual congress due to happen next month.

Ninety-nine more people on board the Diamond Princess test positive, bringing the ship's total to 454. More than a dozen infected Americans from the ship were due to land in the US today as part of a planeload of 300 evacuated. The 14 positive passengers were put into an isolated part of the plane.

Beijing has asked everyone entering the city to self-quarantine for 14 days. A further 1,200 doctors and nurses from the PLA arrive in Wuhan.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

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. Almost 1,000 people remain on board the Holland America cruise ship Westerdam now docked in Cambodia. The remaining passengers and crew are waiting to be tested, after more than 1,200 people disembarked yesterday and on Friday.

More than half a dozen political officials in Hubei are dismissed for failing to control the outbreak, according to a notice published by the Communist Party's discipline and inspection committee in the province.

Taiwan reports its first death, a 60-year-old male taxi driver who died the day before. The man's son is also infected.

US passenger from the Westerdam tests positive in Malaysia.

Gansu Provincial Women's and Children's Hospital hits the headlines by "forcing" 15 female medics to shave their heads to show their commitment to fighting the virus, before they were sent to Wuhan. Many of the nurses appeared reluctant to have their hair shaved, others were crying. Netizens criticised the move, not believing it was necessary or reasonable.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

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.

Anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong is arrested in the southern city of Guangzhou after being on the run for weeks in China. The “Chinese government’s battle against the coronavirus has in no way diverted it from its ongoing general campaign to crush all dissenting voices,” said Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, in an emailed statement. Xu went into hiding after authorities broke up a December gathering of intellectuals discussing political reform in the eastern coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province, prior to the coronavirus crisis. More than a dozen lawyers and activists were detained or disappeared after the Xiamen gathering, according to rights groups - and Xu’s detention appears linked to his presence at the meeting, explained Poon.

The African Union (AU) is working hard to ensure actions are taken to prevent the coronavirus outbreak from spreading across the continent, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said. The statement comes after Egypt confirmed the first case of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on February 14, the first case on mainland Africa. “We anticipated that the Covid-19 outbreak would inevitably impact Africa,” Africa CDC Director John Nkangasong said in a statement late on Saturday. The Africa CDC had been working actively with AU countries in the past four weeks to invest in preparedness and response, Nkangasong said. Last week, Africa CDC trained health personnel from various countries in Senegal and supplied test kits to 16 African laboratories, including Egypt, according to the statement. 


A devotee attends a ceremony to prevent Covid-19 at the Taoist Longde temple in Taoyuan, in Taiwan.
Photo: Associated Press

The Communist Party's newspaper, China Daily, reports that President Xi Jinping remarked on February 4 that issued demands for work to prevent and control the novel coronavirus as early as January 7. The report from China Daily came after several officials in Hubei had been fired for their lack of response.

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.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

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 from the virus and more than 1,700 been infected.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

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 executing 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.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

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.

Thirty-nine 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.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

February 11

As of 3.30 pm today, the death toll from the coronavirus surpassed the 1,000 mark. Some 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. 

Thirty two households living in Hong Mei House on Cheung Hong Estate, Tsing Yi were evacuated after two confirmed 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 criticise responses by officials. 

Two senior officials 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.

Missing citizen journalist Chen Qiushi speaks in front of a convention centre-turned makeshift hospital in Wuhan. The video was taken February 4, 2020, and released by Chen to the Associated Press.
Photo: Courtesy of Chen Qiushi via AP

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.

There has still been no word from Chinese citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, a lawyer last heard from on February 7, and Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital. Fang was taken away by plain-clothes police on February 9. 

February 10 

As of 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 visits 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, 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" and says it will forcibly detain infected people if necessary. 

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. Fang Bin, a Wuhan resident who became well known after he released a video clip of dead bodies in a van outside a major hospital, is taken away by plain-clothes police, according to a report by RTHK.

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 arrested 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 with the 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" trended 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 transmitted 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 scientifically 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, Myanmar and Vietnam.

US President Donald Trump tweets of Chinese President Xi Jinping "he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!

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 foreseeable future.

US President Donald Trump tells journalist Bob Woodward just how bad the virus is. “It goes through the air,” he says,  “That’s always tougher than the touch. You don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

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.

Patricia Dowd, a healthy 57-year-old living in California in the US dies, apparently of a heart attack. She had had flu-like symptoms, then appeared to recover, her family say. It would take until late April before her death would be traced to Covid-19.

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: confirmed 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-ZhuahiMacau 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 personal data has been spread online. With transport in and out of Hubei vastly reduced or non-existent, when travellers eventually reach Wuhan they find themselves 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.

The US Food and Drug Administration gives emergency authorisation for the CDC to use the test for Covid-19.

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.

President Trump gives his annual State of the Union Address, in his speech he says "We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat."

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 hospital 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 equipment 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

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