Coronavirus: A timeline of the outbreak related to the deadly Sars - May 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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2019 - January February March April 

May 30 

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. 

May 29

As of 7pm today, 5,931,867 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 2,595,982 and 362,613 people have died. There are 2,518,199 active cases and 2,009,612 closed cases. In total, 213 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, Dominica, Eritrea, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, Macau, Montenegro, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre Miquelon, St Barth, St Lucia, Seychelles, Timore Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, and  have no known active cases.

South Africa reveals it has a backlog of around 100,000 tests.

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. 

May 28

As of 3 pm today, 5,792,907 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 2,499,040 and 357,480 people have died. There are 2,518,199 active cases and 2,009,612 closed cases. In total, 213 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, Dominica, Eritrea, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, French Polynesia, Macau, Montenegro, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre Miquelon, St Barth, St Lucia, Seychelles,  Timore Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, and  have no known active cases.

May 27

Hong Kong secondary school students return to class from lockdown amid street protests against a law that would make disrespecting the Chinese national anthem illegal.

The US records 1,484 deaths in 24 hours and totals 100,000 deaths. President Trump tweets: or all of the political hacks out there, if I hadn’t done my job well, & early, we would have lost 1 1/2 to 2 Million People, as opposed to the 100,000 plus that looks like will be the number. That’s 15 to 20 times more than we will lose. I shut down entry from China very early! ...

....One person lost to this invisible virus is too much, it should have been stopped at its source, China, but I acted very quickly, and made the right decisions. Many of the current political complainers thought, at the time, that I was moving far to fast, like Crazy Nancy!

May 25

The United States records its 100,000th death.

George Floyd, a 46 year old African American is killed by police in Minnesota. The images of a police offer kneeling on his neck until he stops breathing are viewed globally. People take to the streets to demand the four police officers involved in Floyd's death be arrested.

Britain's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson backs his advisor Dominic Cummings, who is accused of flouting self-isolation rules by driving across the country with his wife after she contracted the disease. Johnson says “He has acted responsibly and legally and with integrity.”

May 24

Dominic Cummings, a top advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is accused of breaching virus lock  down by driving more than 400 km to his parents' home with his family. Cummings had said on March 30 that he was suffering from virus symptoms, as was his wife.

Trump bans non-US citizens travelling from Brazil from entering the US.

May 23

US President Donald Trump plays golf at his course in Sterling Virginia, as the US heads to 100,000 deaths.

May 22

US President Donald Trump announces he is labelling churches "essential" calling on governors to reopen them and threatening to override them if they don't. He does not have the authority to do so.

May 21

US President Donald Trump, in response to a Columbia University study suggesting that 36,000 lives could have been saved in the US alone by implementing social distancing measures just a week earlier, says “so early. I was earlier than anybody thought”.

May 15

As of 3 pm today, 4,527,811 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,706,174 and 303,438 people have died. There are 2,518,199 active cases and 2,009,612 closed cases. In total, 213 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, Caribbean Netherlands, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Pierre Miquelon, St Barth, St Lucia, Suriname and Western Sahara have no known active cases.

The first case of Covid-19 has been found in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. Health experts have long warned that the virus could race through the cramped, sewage-soaked alleys of the camps in the Cox’s Bazar district. The persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority have been housed there in canvas and bamboo shacks since they fled a military offensive in neigbouring Myanmar more than two years ago. (AFP)

May 18

US President Donald Trump tells reporters he is taking hydroxycholoquine, and anit-malarial drug.

May 14

As of 5 pm today, 4,431,880 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,662,343 and 298,201 people have died. There are 2,471,336 active cases and 1,960,544 closed cases. In total, 213 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, Caribbean Netherlands, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Pierre Miquelon, St Barth, St Lucia, Suriname and Western Sahara have no known active cases.

The first typhoon of the season strikes the Philippines. Typhoon Vongfong is packing sustained winds of 150 km/h and gusts of up to 185 km/h. The nations' officials face the problem of overcrowding in typhoon shelters during the pandemic.

Rick Bright, the whistle blower who was thrown out of the Health and Human Services biodefence agency for refusing to tout US President Donald Trump's anti-malaria drug, says the nation still lacks a coherent plan. Bright was testifying before a House committee during a hearing into his removal.

The WHO warns the virus might never go away.

Ivanka Trump says she wears a mask near US President Donald Trump, and "everyone is instructed to do so as well".

Indonesia allows several airlines to begin operating again, causing snaking queues at Jakarta's airport.

The United Nations warns of a looming global mental health crisis.

People in Rio De Janeiro who have been cooped up in their homes for weeks are getting some relief from mobile movie screens. The screens, moved around on the back of Landrovers, show short movies to entertain children who live in apartments.

May 13

As of 5 pm today, 4,356,668 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,610,800 and 293,113 people have died. There are 2,452,755 active cases and 1,903,913 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, Caribbean Netherlands, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Pierre Miquelon, St Barth,Suriname and Western Sahara have no known active cases. The Kingdom of Lesotho has its first case.

A new study published by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America has found that the virus can be spread by people just talking in a confined space. One person talking loudly for one minute can spread 1,000 virus-containing droplets that linger in the air for as long as eight minutes.

Italy's South Tyrol province defies Rome and reasserted its autonomy as a way to open its economy.

Hong Kong reports a second case of local infection, this time in a five-year-old. The education minister says schools are still on track to open on May 27.

A restaurant in the US, The Inn at Little Washington, says it will maintain social distancing by placing well dressed mannequins at tables, to fill half of its seats.

US authorities claim Chinese hackers are trying to steal COVID-19 research. “China’s efforts to target these sectors pose a significant threat to our nation’s response to COVID-19,” the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said. Neither offered evidence or examples to support the allegation. AFP

Demonstrations erupt in Montenegro after officials detained a Serbian Orthodox Bishop and seven priests for suspicion of violating lock down.

May 12

As of 2 pm today, 4,256,538 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,527,726 and 287,353 people have died. There are 2,441,459 active cases and 1,815,079 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Saint Pierre Miquelon, St Barth,Suriname and Western Sahara have no known active cases.

Hong Kong records an infection that is not imported, breaking a 23-day streak of no local infections.

The US's top virus doctor, Anthony Fauci warns that it might not be a good idea to aim to open schools in the US in autumn as scientists still do not know everything about the virus.

Dominic Cummings, a top advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is spotted in a town that is about 400 km away from his home in London, a breach of Britain's strict quarantine rules. 

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. 

May 11

As of 2 pm today, 4,181,218 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,493,490 and 283,876 people have died. There are 2,403,852 active cases and 1,777,366 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, The Faeroe Islands, Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, St Barth and Suriname have no known active cases. 

Trump says the US has "met the moment and prevailed" over the virus. Previously his son-in-law Jared Kushner said the administration's response was a "great success story." At that point deaths were at 58,000.

China reports more cases in Wuhan after a month without new infections. AFP

May 10

China says it has a case in Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, after a month with no infections.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced several changes to Britain's lockdown status. The nation's slogan will change from "stay at home," to "stay alert". It asks for limited contact between people, and people will be allowed to leave their homes more than once a day for exercise. It still urges people who can work from home to do so, while those who cannot will be allowed to return, but should follow social distancing rules. Public transport too, would have to observe distancing rules, which led the Transport Minister to encourage those who could to use bikes.

Under the guise of stopping fake news, Algeria has instituted a raft of new rules which allows the government to go after protesters. Despite protesters halting their weekly gatherings since the start of the public health crisis, security forces have targeted young bloggers, independent journalists, online media and activists from the "Hirak" protest movement. AFP

Seoul shuts down night clubs after a spike in cases in South Korea.

In the US, at least 11 members of the secret service test positive, which a further 60 self isolating. The US vice president’s spokeswoman, Katie Miller, becomes the second White House staffer this week to test positive, officials say, even as President Donald Trump continued to go mask-free at a World War II commemoration with veterans in their 90s. AFP

Trump Tweets: We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic, especially the very early BAN of people from China, the infectious source, entering the USA. Compare that to the Obama/Sleepy Joe disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu. Poor marks, bad polls - didn’t have a clue!

May 9

Two young children and a teenager have now died in New York state from a possible complication from the coronavirus involving swollen blood vessels and heart problems, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says. At least 73 children in New York have been diagnosed with symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease - a rare inflammatory condition in children - and toxic shock syndrome. Most of them are toddlers and primary school-age children. Children elsewhere in the U.S. have also been hospitalized with the condition, which was also seen in Europe. AP

US President Donald Trump continues to push for states to reopen, using the catch phrase "transition to greatness".

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. 

May 8

As of 2 pm today, 3,917,944 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,344,260 and 270,740 people have died. There are 2,302,944 active cases and 1,615,000 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, The Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, St Barth and Suriname have no known active cases.

US President Donald Trump claims the US is the world leader in responding to the virus.

May 7

As of 4 pm today, 3,822,951 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,302,995 and 265,084 people have died. There are 2,254,872 active cases and 1,568,079 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. Anguilla, Belize, The Falkland Islands, Greenland, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, St Barth, Suriname and * have no known active cases. *Corrected error: Zimbabwe is not clear

South Korea, last month, reported that dozens of patients who had had the virus and recovered, had become reinfected again. This information baffled scientists in search of a vaccine, and made relaxing lock downs across the world far more complicated. But, after weeks of research, the South Koreans found that they had been getting false positives. South Korea uses reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests, which test for the virus' genetic material. Unfortunately, it cannot tell the difference between active virus and inactive virus. Reuters

Baseball fans from around the world who don't have their local games to watch, are tuning in to Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League. All the League's four teams have started to stream games with English commentary, racking up millions of views for games featuring cardboard cut-outs for fans.

A five year old boy in New York dies of the Kawasaki-like disease linked to Covid.

The US hits 75,000 deaths

US President Donald Trump's personal valet tests positive. Trump says he had very little contact with the man.

May 6

As of 4 pm today, 3,727,802 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,242,347 and 258,338 people have died. There are 2,227,117 active cases and 1,500,685 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. The Falkland Islands, Papua New Guinea, Greenland, St Barth, Suriname and Anguilla have no known active cases.

Hong Kong begins to return to normal. Most businesses open and the government gives out free re-usable masks to citizens. A plan is set to open schools starting at the end of the month.

In China, students returned to class. 

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. 

May 5

As of 7 am today, 3,639,616 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,192,842 and 251,721 people have died. There are 2,195,053 active cases and 1,444,563 closed cases. In total, 212 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. The Falkland Islands, Papua New Guinea, Greenland, St Barth, Suriname and Anguilla have no known active cases.

US intelligence allies, known as Five Eyes, say it's highly unlikely the virus was made in a laboratory, and say that no dossier of theirs had been leaked to the media.

Afghanistan finds that one third of 500 people randomly tested in Kabul are positive.

US President Donald Trump tours a factory making face masks in Arizona, and fails to wear a mask.

 

May 4

Iran reopens mosques in 132 counties, or about one third of the administrative divisions. Maintaining “social distancing is more important than collective prayer,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani argues that Islam considers safety obligatory while praying in mosques is only recommended.

The Associated Press publishes a story taken from a four-page Department of Homeland Security report, which says China covered up the extent of the outbreak - and how contagious the disease is - to stock up on the medical supplies it needed to respond to it

Russia report 10,581 cases, bringing its total number of infections to 145,268.

In the early hours of the morning Bing Liu, 37, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine is shot dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Liu had been involved in coronavirus research. The man police suspect of killing Liu, Hao Gu, 46, is found dead in his car near Liu's home. Police say both men know each other.

Western Sahara and Saint Pierre and Miquelon report their first cases.

Taiwan again raises the issue of membership to the World Health Organisation. Because China claims Taiwan as belonging to it, and the WHO recognises Beijing as being "China", the WHO gives all the information to Beijing, which should disseminate it. Speaking to foreign reporters in Taipei, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan wanted proper access to the WHO. “For Taiwan, what we want is first-hand information. Any second-hand information slows down any actions we take, and distorts our judgement about the epidemic.

May 3

Pharmaceutical giant Roche receives emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for an antibody test to help determine if people have ever been infected with the virus, the Swiss drugmaker said. Roche had previously pledged to make its antibody test available by early May and to boost production by June to “high double-digit millions” per month.

Philippines halts all inbound passenger flights for a week starting today in a bid to free up space in quarantine centres filled with thousands of migrant workers have have returned home.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli claims a papaya tested positive for the virus at the national laboratory. He questioned his country's virus numbers and called on the authorities to investigate "sabotage" at the national laboratory. He said that people who tested positive for the virus may not be sick. “The equipment or people may be compromised and sometimes it can be sabotage...,” Magufuli said in a Swahili speech broadcast on television. He claimed to have secretly sent a variety of fruit and animals, and even vehicle oil, to be tested. According to Magufuli, a papaya, a quail and a goat had returned positive tests. 

In a report issued to coincide with World Press Freedom Day 2020, the International Press Institute concludes that in both democratic and autocratic states the “public health crisis has allowed governments to exercise control over the media on the pretext of preventing the spread of disinformation.” It said authoritarian governments have been abusing emergency measures to “further stifle independent media and criminalize journalism,” while in democracies “efforts to control the public narrative and restrict access to information around the pandemic are on the rise.”

Russia reports a record number of new infections at 10,633 cases, bringing the total infections to 134,687.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says there is "enormous evidence" that the epidemic originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China. 

US President Donald Trump estimates 100,000 US deaths.

May 2

More than 240,000 people have died of the new coronavirus worldwide. The United States has the highest number of deaths at 65,173, followed by Italy (28,236), Britain (28,131), Spain (25,100) and France (24,594).

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has sparked outrage with an off-the-cuff remark about the fact that his country had passed the 5,000 death mark. “So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?” Bolsonaro said. He joked that even though his middle name is Messias, or Messiah, “I don’t do miracles.”

Madagascar ships its herbal virus remedy to Guinea-Bissau. Named "Covid Organics" the tea is made from artemisia plant, which is effective in treating malaria, and other hers.

People across Spain are free to go out for walks and to play sport after 48 days of home confinement.

China publishes a short animation titled Once Upon a Virus mocking the US response to the coronavirus using Lego-like figures to represent the two countries.

May 1

As of noon today, 3,322,926 people have been infected by Covid-19. The number of recoveries stands at 1,050,430 and 234,408 people have died. There are 2,038,088 active cases and 1,284,838 closed cases. In total, 210 countries and territories, and two international transporters have been infected. The Falkland Islands, Greenland, St Barth and Anguilla have no known active cases.

US Covid-19 cases at a JBS meatpacking plant in Colorado have more than doubled “in a number of days” and a sixth employee died of the virus, a union official says, underscoring the risks of US meat plants reopening. The beef plant in Greeley, Colorado, started operating last Friday after it was closed for about two weeks following an outbreak among workers.

The World Health Organisation says it hoped China will invite it to take part in its investigations into the animal origins of the novel coronavirus. WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said the UN health agency understood there were a number of investigations under way in China “to better understand the source of the outbreak”, but added that “WHO is not currently involved in the studies in China.” Scientists believe the killer virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market in Wuhan selling exotic animals for meat. But US President Donald Trump has fuelled speculation and rumours -- generally rejected by experts -- that the virus may have emerged in a top-secret Chinese lab.

More than 30 million people have been made jobless as the US economy slides further into a crisis that is becoming the most devastating since the 1930s.

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