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WHO Did What When: COVID-19 Table
Date Event
2019.12.30 (Mon) Wuhan City government started tracing cases JHU
2019.12.30 (Mon) Dr Li Wenliang warned friends and colleagues to take protective measures against the outbreak possibility of an illness resembling SARS, "Seven cases of Sars were confirmed in the Huanan Fruit and Seafood Market". He would a few days after that be reprimanded by local police and his employer Wuhan Central Hospital, but then later exonerated by the state supervision authority. Dr Li passed away 07 Feb 2020 from COVID-19 (SCMP-2020.03-Wuhan-police-apologise)
2019.12.31 (Tue) Taiwan CDC emailed query to WHO, confirmed by MOHW Taiwan tweet 2020.04.11. Taiwan started screening all travelers from Wuhan.
2019.12.31 (Tue) First report to World Health Organization China Country Office of cases of acute pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan. WHO news release - "WHO is closely monitoring the situation and is in close contact with national authorities in China."
2020.01.02 (Thu) First Singapore MOH Advisory issued. Ministry monitoring cluster of severe pneumonia cases in Wuhan (Hubei province, China), with suspected cases to be referred to hospitals. Alert issued to medical practitioners, but no known cases in Singapore. Changi airport temperature screening for inbound travelers the following day.
2020.01.03 (Fri) China's National Health Commission issued gag order and said the Wuhan samples should be treated as highly pathogenic, and destroyed, if not moved to approved testing facilities.
2020.01.07 (Tue) China identified cause as a 'novel coronavirus', named by WHO initially as 2019-nCoV.
2020.01.09 (Thu) Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) reported identifying a novel coronavirus — later called SARS-CoV2 — as cause of the acute pneumonia (CCTV).
2020.01.11 (Sat) Chinese scientists published on open science networks — and GenBank — the complete genome sequence of novel coronavirus (Horton). China's National Health Commission repeated its assertion of no evidence of human transmission and no medical worker infections.
2020.01.13 (Mon) China top officials secretly determined likely facing pandemic from novel coronavirus in Wuhan (AP), but said nothing to the public. First case outside China recorded in Thailand (AP).
2020.01.14 (Tue) WHO tweeted 'no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission in China'.
2020.01.14 (Tue) Ma Xiaowei, head of China's National Health Commission, teleconferenced provincial health officials: "this is the most severe challenge since 2003 SARS and likely to emerge as a major public health event. [...] All must prepare for a pandemic."
2020.01.17 (Fri) Baibuting neighborhood, Wuhan, Lunar New Year banquet JHU.
2020.01.19 (Sun) China's respiratory specialist Nanshan ZHONG announced human-human transmission JHU.
2020.01.20 China's President Xi Jin Ping warned public that a pandemic was likely from a novel coronovirus (AP)
2020.01.21 (Tue) First confirmed case in US, in Washington state; someone who had traveled from China the previous week (CBS)
2020.01.23 China imposed lockdown on Wuhan (Lancet, 16 Mar 2020, NYT 22 Jan 2020, JHU). WHO's Director-General Dr Tedros recommended airport screening and testing facilities but not a travel ban.
2020.01.23 WHO's Emergency Committee heard China's evidence on death rates, infection, and geographical spread associated with the novel coronavirus. The Committee noted both human-to-human transmission and a preliminary estimate of $R_0$ of between 1.4 and 2.5. However, the Committee—including representation from the US, China, Japan, Canada, France, and Australia—disagreed on whether a Public Health Emergency of International Concern should be declared. Instead, WHO was asked to consider a system that would be less restrictive, i.e., not just PHEIC/no PHEIC, but instead that allowed varying levels of threat and alarm. More...
2020.01.24 Lancet article on coronavirus by Chinese scientists describing (1) pandemic potential and (2) high mortality with evidence of efficient human transmission, and (3) recommending testing upon suspicion and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
2020.01.29 Tedros praised China's efforts to contain the virus, including locking down large parts of the country.
2020.01.30 WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following confirmed cases of human-human transmission in Germany, Japan, Vietnam, and the US. The world outside China had only 82 confirmed cases and no deaths.
2020.01.30 (Thu) India confirmed first COVID-19 case.
2020.01.31 Italian government suspended all flights between Italy and China; declared a state of emergency duration six months: The first EU member state to take such measures.
2020.01.31 Trump announced travel restrictions on people coming from China; US declared public health emergency (CBS).
2020.02.07 (Fri) Singapore DORSCON Orange, indicating estimated moderate to high public health impact. Inessential large-scale events canceled or postponed. Personal contact (shaking hands, face-touching) discouraged. Self-isolation suggested for those with respiratory symptoms, if not yet tested negative. Events of more than 250 people deferred or canceled.
2020.02.07 Li Wenliang, who had reported the existence of coronavirus and was initially silenced by the local authorities, died from COVID-19.
2020.02.09 (Sun) Trump said, "The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year," suggesting the relative insignificance of the 15 COVID-19 cases thus far reported in the US (CBS)
2020.02.11 (Tue) WHO named the new coronavirus disease COVID-19.
2020.02.17 WHO described Chinese data on 44,000 confirmed cases: 80% mild; 2% fatal; diseases more severe among those older. Tedros urged world leaders not to squander the window of opportunity to get ahead of the virus and prevent its spread.
2020.02.19 Singaporean residents returning from China placed on SHN.
2020.02.20 Italy identified first local coronavirus transmission NYT-2020.04.05-Italy-lockdown
2020.02.23 Singapore served SHN to returnees from US and UK.
2020.02.23 Italian government created quarantine zone in Padua province, closing schools, museums, theatres, and public events. But two days later, Milan's mayor allowed bars to operate in the evenings in a "Milan Doesn't Stop" campaign, and reopened cathedrals and museums.
2020.02.25 Singapore travel bans on France, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Iran (between this date through 13 Mar); SHN served on returnees
2020.02.26 (Wed) Daily new cases outside China overtook those inside (JHU).
2020.02.26 Trump announced coronavirus response team lead by Mike Pence.
2020.02.28 WHO's first report on the coronavirus: that it spreads through contact with those infected; most common symptoms fever, dry cough, fatigue. Report praised China for 'perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history'.
2020.03.06 US confirmed 402 COVID-19 cases. Trump asserted, "Anybody that wants a test can get a test." (CBS)
2020.03.09 All of Italy placed on lockdown, the first European nation to do so.
2020.03.09 US confirmed 959 new cases. Trump compared mortality numbers on coronavirus and flu "So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!" (CBS)
2020.03.10 Malaysian government implemented Movement Control Order MCO.
2020.03.10 Italian PM banned all nonessential movement but enforcement was patchy NYT-2020.04.05-Italy-lockdown
2020.03.11 (Wed) India's Health Ministry said the coronavirus 'is not a health emergency'.
2020.03.12 WHO declared COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, with over 100 nations reporting confirmed cases.
2020.03.13 (Fri) WHO announced Europe the epicentre of the pandemic, after the total number of confirmed cases outside China exceeded those inside.
2020.03.13 (Fri) US confirmed 2700 new cases. Trump declared national emergency (CBS).
2020.03.13 (Fri) The UK government described its strategy of herd immunity, allowing enough who are going to get mildly ill to become immune. This herd immunity strategy would be reversed after the weekend.
2020.03.14 Spain declared state of emergency, restricting movement for over 46mn people, shutting non-essential businesses, and closing external borders with European neighbours. Disallowed outdoor movement (including exercise), except for pharmacy and grocery shopping. Police and military enforced the lockdown. DW-Europe-lockdown
2020.03.16 (Mon) The UK reversed course and announced social distancing measures; by 2020.03.20 UK's Prime Minister ordered closed all pubs, restaurants, gyms, and cinemas.
2020.03.17 (Tue) France strict nationwide lockdown; residents allowed out only for grocery shopping DW-Europe-lockdown
2020.03.19 (Thu) Wuhan reported no new domestic COVID-19 cases for the first time since the outbreak; at its peak in January and February 2020, several thousand new cases a day were being recorded in Wuhan alone, a city of 11mn. On this day China overall had 34 imported cases from abroad. ST
2020.03.19 Number of COVID-19 deaths in Italy first exceeded those in China (CNN).
2020.03.19 Taiwan closed borders to nonresidents.
2020.03.21 (Sat) First COVID-19 deaths in Singapore: 75yo Singaporean female, admitted and tested positive Sun 23 Feb at NCID; 64yo Indonesian male, admitted NCID Fri 13 Mar after arriving from Singapore (having been hospitalised in Indonesia for pneumonia) (MOH)
2020.03.22 Germany issued strict social distancing measures but not lockdown, although the individual states of Bavaria and Saarland did impose the latter on their residents DW-Europe-lockdown
2020.03.24 (Tue) Hubei began to allow residents to leave the province, although travel restrictions still sealed capital city Wuhan NYT-2020.03.24-Hubei-lockdown
2020.03.24 (Tue) Trump said, "I think Easter Sunday — you'll have packed churches all over our country." (CBS).
2020.03.24 (Tue) Modi announced on TV at 2000h that from midnight all of India would be under lockdown; all markets, closed; all transportation disallowed.
2020.03.25 (Wed) Trump suggested hydroxychloroquine as potential coronavirus treatment (CBS).
2020.03.26 The US became the world's lead nation in COVID-19 confirmed cases NYT.
2020.03.27 Belarus's President Alexander Lukashenko called the coronavirus a "frenzy and psychosis", suggesting citizens "hit the sauna, down some vodka, and get back to work" (WP-2020.03)
2020.03.28 With most of Europe under lockdown, Sweden kept open kindergartens, bars, restaurants, sports clubs, hairdressers, although not universities and upper secondary schools. Gatherings allowed if no more than 50 (G-2020.03.28-Sweden).
2020.03.28 Putin ordered a month-long national holiday in Russia, so that the entire country took off from work. Tough new laws on local lockdown DW-Europe-lockdown.
2020.03.30 Moscow quarantined, with self-isolation required for all residents; followed by St. Petersburg DW-Europe-lockdown
2020.04.07 (Tue) Singapore National Circuit-Breaker began, in place until Mon 04 May 2020, later(on 21 Apr) extended to 01 Jun 2020. All schools on HBL
2020.04.15 (Wed) China issued revised death and case counts, resulting in a discrete, step increase in COVID-19 deaths JHU.
2020.04.15 Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro called the coronavirus "a media frenzy" and "a little flu", criticising social isolation measures and the state governors who introduced them.
2020.05.01 (Fri) WHO's Director-General Dr Tedros said the organisation's 30 Jan PHEIC declaration was made in "enough time for the rest of the world to respond": at that point the world outside China had only 82 confirmed cases and no deaths (ST-2020.05.03-WHO-Declaration-Enough-Time).
2020.05.03 (Sun) US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, claimed "enormous evidence" that the coronavirus outbreak came from a Wuhan laboratory, and that China's coronavirus response was a 'classic communist disinformation effort' (ABC-News-2020.05.03-Pompeo, Guardian-2020.05.03-Pompeo).


CC — Confirmed Case

CNW — Chinese national from Wuhan

DORSCON — Disease Outbreak Response Condition, Singapore

MOH — Ministry of Health, Singapore

HBL — Home Based Learning

SHN — Stay-Home Notification


  1. At the 23 Jan 2020 meeting of WHO's International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, China presented data on death rates, the rise in confirmed cases, and the provinces affected by the novel coronavirus. This Committee advises WHO's Director-General on the determination of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC); the meeting included representation from the US, China, Japan, Thailand, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Thailand, and Singapore, among elsewhere. The Emergency Committee at this 23 Jan meeting noted regarding the novel coronavirus both human-to-human transmission and a preliminary $R_0$ estimate of 1.4-2.5. However, Committee members disagreed on whether PHEIC should be called, due to the latter's restrictive, binary nature. The Committee suggested WHO might consider a more nuanced system that could reflect varying levels of alertness and severity, rather than just PHEIC / no PHEIC. The outcome, however, was that, based on the evidence presented, the divided EC gave no clear direction to the Direction-General on PHEIC declaration. Return
  2. From the perspective of international policy, the 12 Mar 2020 declaration of pandemic by WHO carried no particular significance. Instead, it is the earlier 30 Jan 2020 PHEIC determination that mattered for international agreements across different health ministries and agencies (WHO-2020.01.30-Emergency-Committee-PHEIC, Time-2020.01.30-PHEIC-WHO, WHO-IHR-Procedures-PHEIC, WHO-IHR-Committees).


  1. Taiwan-CDC-2019.12.31-email-WHO-alert-MOHW-tweet
  2. MOH-COVID-19
  3. WHO-2020.01.14-no-evidence-human-transmission-2019-nCoV
  4. WHO-2020.01.23-Emergency-Committee-divided
  5. Time-2020.01.30-PHEIC-WHO
  6. WHO-IHR-Procedures-PHEIC
  7. WHO-IHR-Committees
  8. WHO-2020.01.30-Emergency-Committee-PHEIC
  9. Caixin-2020.02-07-Interview-Li.Wenliang
  10. SCMP-2020.03-Wuhan-police-apologise
  11. WHO-Emergencies-C19-Events
  12. Huang-C-2020.01-Clinical-Features-2019-Novel-Coronavirus-Wuhan-Lancet
  13. Horton-R-2020.03-Alarm-Coronavirus-Britain-Fail-Guardian
  14. WHO-2020.03-COVID-19-Pandemic
  15. NYT-2020.03.24-Hubei-lockdown
  16. NYT-2020.03-US-Leads-World-Confirmed-Cases
  17. WP-2020.03.27-Belarus-Rejects-Coronavirus-Risks-Suggests-Saunas-Vodka
  18. G-2020.03.28-Sweden
  19. DW-Europe-lockdown
  20. Watson-K-2020.04-Timeline-Trump-Coronavirus-CBS
  21. NYT-2020.04.05-Italy-lockdown
  22. WSJ-2020.04.05-WHO-Coronavirus-Disinformation
  23. ST-2020.04.07-UK-Leadership-Crisis-Boris-Johnson-ICU
  24. ST-2020.04.08-Social-Gatherings
  25. MOH-2020.04.09-287-New-Cases
  26. ST-2020.04.09-287-New-Cases-Foreign-Worker-Dorms
  27. AP-2020.04.15-China-Delayed-Six-Days-Pandemic-Warning
  28. JHU-Data-Hubei-Timeline
  29. ST-2020.04.24-NUS-Resilience-Growth-1000-opportunities
  30. ST-2020.04.25-Singapore-new-cases
  31. ST-2020.04.27-Singapore-new-cases
  32. ST-2020.04.28-Singapore-new-cases
  33. ST-2020.05.03-WHO-Declaration-Enough-Time
  34. ABC-News-2020.05.03-Pompeo
  35. Guardian-2020.05.03-Pompeo
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