Global coronavirus cases reaches 3 million milestone

December 31 – China first reports a cluster of unusual pneumonia cases in Wuhan to the WHO

January 4 – WHO tweets about ‘a cluster of pneumonia cases’ in Wuhan with no deaths, saying investigations into the cause are underway

January 5 – The WHO issues its first guidance on ‘pneumonia of unknown cause’, saying there are a total of 44 patients and 11 in severe condition. Main symptom is listed as fever, with ‘a few patients having difficulty breathing’. The WHO says there is ‘no evidence of human-to-human transmission’ and that ‘no health care worker infections have been reported’

January 7 – China says it has identified the cause of the pneumonia as a ‘novel coronavirus’, initially named 2019-nCoV by the WHO

January 9 – The WHO praises China for identifying the new virus ‘in a short space of time’ and repeats its assessment that the virus ‘does not transmit readily between people’. It also advises against travel or trade restrictions on China

January 13 – WHO says it is now working with authorities in Thailand after reports of a case there, and may call a meeting of the Emergency Committee

January 14 – The WHO tweets saying there is ‘no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission in China’, though later clarifies and says there may have been limited transmission via family members

Jan 20-21 – WHO’s field team in China conducts a brief field visit to epicentre Wuhan

Jan 21 – The first case is confirmed on US soil in Washington, in a person who had travelled from China a week before

Jan 22 – A report from the WHO team sent to Wuhan notes ‘human-to-human’ transmission is taking place, but says more research is needed to assess ‘the full extent’. The report notes confirmed infections in 16 medics, a clear sign of transmission from patients

The team recommends avoiding large gatherings, isolating infected people, and a focus on washing hands as the best way to combat the virus’s spread

The same day, that WHO Emergency Committee convenes for the first time. Afterwards, Dr Tedros says he has spoken with the Chinese Minister for Health, and praises the government for its ‘invaluable’ efforts to halt the virus. He calls a second meeting for the following day

Jan 23 – With the Emergency Committee split, Dr Tedros says he has decided not to declare the virus a public health emergency of international concern. Referencing the lockdown of Wuhan, which was announced the same day, he says he hopes ‘it will be effective and short in duration’. He praises China’s ‘cooperation and transparency’ in tackling the virus

Dr Tedros says there is limited evidence of human-to-human transmission, mostly among families or doctors treating the virus. At this point, there are 584 confirmed cases and 17 deaths globally, including in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and the US

He recommends screening at airports and tells countries to put testing facilities in place, but stops short of recommending a travel ban

Jan 28 – Dr Tedros and other senior WHO officials meet Xi Jinping in China, agreeing that a panel of experts should be sent to monitor the outbreak. He praises ‘the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership and the transparency they have demonstrated’

Jan 29 – Dr Tedros gives a speech praising China’s efforts to contain the virus, saying the country ‘deserves our gratitude and respect’ for locking down swathes of the country to prevent the spread.

He notes a few cases of human-to-human spread outside China, which he says ‘is of grave concern’ and will be monitored closely

Jan 30 – The WHO Emergency Committee reconvenes early and declares a public health emergency of international concern. It comes after confirmed cases of human-to-human transmission in Germany, Japan, Vietnam and the US

Dr Tedros again praises China for ‘setting a new standard for outbreak response’ with its lockdowns, and says the small number of cases outside the country – 98 – is ‘thanks to their efforts’

Despite noting that a majority of cases outside China have a history of travel to or from Wuhan, he again recommends no measures to curb international travel or trade

Jan 31 – Donald Trump announces travel restrictions on people coming from China

Feb 3 – Dr Tedros gives a speech to the WHO updating on coronavirus, saying there are 17,238 cases in China and 361 deaths – now though to be an under-estimate

He praises Xi Jinping for his individual leadership, and insists that cases outside China ‘can be managed’ if world authorities work together and follow recommendations which include – no ban on travel or trade, supporting countries with weak health systems, investment in vaccines and diagnosis, combating disinformation and urgent reviews of emergency preparedness

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