LELP.NET — On Dec. 31, 2019, Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China, with an unknown cause. What started as a mystery disease was first referred to as 2019-nCoV and then named COVID-19.
The timeline below tracks the development of the outbreak as it unfolds.
Total cases: Coronavirus Cases: 4,580,048, Deaths: 305,588 and Recovered: 1,735,386. (Last updated: May 15, 2020, 16:13 GMT).
May 14 — The government of Burundi confirms that it expelled WHO country representative Walter Kazadi Mulombo, declaring him “persona non grata,” without providing a reason.
Heads of state, among others, pen an open letter calling on health ministers at the upcoming World Health Assembly to create a global agreement that “ensures rapid universal access to quality-assured vaccines and treatments with need prioritized above the ability to pay.”
“Now is not the time to allow the interests of the wealthiest corporations and governments to be placed before the universal need to save lives, or to leave this massive and moral task to market forces,” the letter says.
Most food produced in Africa is by smallholder farmers, who tend to be elderly because many youth have left the rural areas for the cities, says Chris Nikoi, regional director for West and Central Africa at the World Food Programme, during a news briefing.
If coronavirus cases among these elderly farmers begin to escalate, it will have “serious implications for food production going forward,” he says. “If I look at West and Central Africa, we are now about to enter into the planting season and just imagine if, in most of rural Africa, people who farm are falling ill.”
May 13 — During a news briefing, Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme, warns against lifting lockdowns prematurely and without the right public health surveillance measures in place to detect it, including community-based surveillance and widespread testing.
“If that virus transmission accelerates, and you don’t have the systems to detect it, it will be days or weeks before you know something has gone wrong," he says. “We should not be waiting to see if opening of lockdowns has worked by counting the cases in an ICU or counting bodies in the morgue."
Lesotho confirms its first case of COVID-19. It’s the last country on the African continent to report a case.
May 12 — Five COVID-19 patients in intensive care die in a fire in St. Petersburg, Russia, that might have been caused by a ventilator short circuit. Russia now has the second-highest caseload, following the United States.
The first case of COVID-19 in a crowded civilian protection camp is reported in Juba, South Sudan. The country has 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“This pandemic is also coinciding with the start of the lean season in South Sudan. There is still a real worry that the measures taken to suppress the spread of coronavirus run the risk of disrupting livelihood activities, delaying access to food assistance, and placing additional strain on poor households’ abilities to buy food, seeds and other essentials. They risk having a particularly bad effect on the urban poor and those living in displacement sites,” writes Mercy Laker, deputy country director for programs in South Sudan for CARE, in a press release.
Both Brazil and Mexico report the highest daily fatalities in their countries since the pandemic began.
May 11 — The Chinese government reports the first new cluster of cases in Wuhan since the government lifted the lockdown measures in the city at the epicenter of the pandemic.
According to a projection from the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, a six-month disruption of antiretroviral therapy due to the pandemic could lead to more than 500,000 additional deaths from AIDs-related illnesses, including tuberculosis, in sub-Saharan Africa, this year and next. Disruption in efforts to curtail mother-to-child transmission of the virus for six months could also lead to a sharp rise in HIV infections in children, including up to 37% in Mozambique, 78% in Malawi, 78% in Zimbabwe, and 104% in Uganda.
Herd immunity, a term rooted in animal husbandry, looks at the overall health of a herd of animals, rather than an individual’s health. Globally, there have been conversations that countries could achieve this if enough people in a population contract and recover from COVID-19, creating some level of immunity.
“Humans are not herds … It can lead to a very brutal arithmetic which does not put people, and life and suffering at the center of that equation," says Ryan, during a press conference.
“I think this idea that: Well, maybe countries who had lax measures and hadn’t done anything, will all of the sudden magically reach some herd immunity and ‘so what’ if we lose a few old people along the way? This is a really dangerous, dangerous calculation,” he says.
Vanuatu is preparing a request to defer its graduation from the category of “least developed countries," scheduled for December, because of the pandemic’s impact.
May 10 — The Chinese government reports its first case in Wuhan, where the pandemic originated, since April 3. This follows the government’s lifting of lockdown measures.
Ethiopian troops may have shot down a plane on May 4 carrying humanitarian supplies to assist Somalia in its fight against the coronavirus, The New York Times reports. A leaked report suggests there were fears that the private plane would carry out a suicide attack.
May 9 — The number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 4 million globally.
An editorial in The Lancet suggests that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is “perhaps the biggest threat to Brazil’s COVID-19 response.”
“He not only continues to sow confusion by openly flouting and discouraging the sensible measures of physical distancing and lockdown brought in by state governors and city mayors but has also lost two important and influential ministers in the past 3 weeks,” writes The Lancet.
Only 34% of all confirmed global cases are reported to have recovered, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama calls President Donald Trump’s handling of the country’s COVID-19 pandemic an “absolute chaotic disaster" in a conference call with former members of his administration.
May 8 — The United States blocks a vote in the U.N. Security Council calling for a resolution for a global ceasefire so that countries can more effectively fight COVID-19 in their countries, over mention of the World Health Organization. Trump has been critical of WHO’s handling of the crisis, including the agency’s relationship with China. In April, he announced he was suspending the country’s contributions to WHO.
During a press conference, Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead at the World Health Organization Health Emergencies Programme, says that the scientific community is still a long way off from fully understanding COVID-19.
“Although it has seemed like an incredibly long time, we are at the very, very early stages of our understanding of how this virus affects the body, how the disease progresses, what disease that this infection causes,” she says. “It’s very difficult to collect a standardized set of data from patients when you are in the middle of a very intense outbreak and you are just trying to save as many lives as you can.”
May 7 — The United Nations increases its Global Humanitarian Response Plan to nearly $7 billion.
As part of this response plan, the World Health Organization updates its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, estimating the agency’s financial needs for its operations until the end of this year to $1.7 billion. This includes funding WHO has already received from its initial response plan, leaving WHO with a funding gap of $1.3 billion for 2020.
A study examining male COVID-19 patients at Shangqiu Municipal Hospital in China found that the virus was present in their semen, including some who were recovering.
Between 29 million and 44 million people could become infected with COVID-19 in Africa, and between 83,000 and 190,000 people could die in the first year of the pandemic, “if containment measures fail," according to a press release from WHO. This includes an estimated 3.6 million to 5.5 million hospitalizations, of which 82,000 to 167,000 of these would be severe cases requiring oxygen, and between 52,000 and 107,000 would be critical cases that would require breathing support.
“COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat,” writes Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, in a press release.
Almost 1,000 African health workers have been infected with COVID-19.
Eighty-five children are released from prison in South Sudan, as part of an effort to reduce crowding to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
May 6 — At least five years of progress on efforts to control tuberculosis could be lost because of the pandemic, limiting efforts to diagnose, treat, and prevent the disease, according to a new report by the Stop TB Partnership. According to a modeling analysis, under the scenario of a three-month lockdown and 10-month restoration of services, there could be an additional 6.3 million cases of TB globally between now and 2025 and an additional 1.4 million deaths.
While 750 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Somalia, there is concern that many cases have gone untested.
“The IRC is extremely concerned that Somalia is becoming quickly overwhelmed by a major uptick in COVID-19 cases. The situation is on the verge of spiraling out of control. We are seeing widespread community transmission in a country that will not be able to handle a multitude of severely ill patients at once.
“IRC staff are reporting that people with symptoms are being told to stay home to save the limited health resources for those who become severely ill, showing that the official count is far off from reality," writes Richard Crothers, country director for Somalia at the International Rescue Committee, in a press release.
May 5 — A survey, conducted across 28 cities in 20 African countries, found that 32% of respondents said they do not have enough information about COVID-19; 62% believe the pandemic will have a major impact on their country; 44% believe it is a threat to them personally; 69% said food and water would be a problem if they were forced to remain at home for 14 days; and 51% said that they would run out of money. The report was produced by the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to COVID-19.
U.K. coronavirus adviser Neil Ferguson resigns after disobeying the lockdown rules that he helped create.
May 4 — A pledging conference hosted by the European Union and attended by dozens of world leaders raises €7.4 billion ($8.1 billion) to fund the research and equitable distribution of COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
The African Union says its in discussion with the government of Madagascar to receive technical data on the safety and efficiency of an herbal tonic that has been touted by the country’s president as a cure for COVID-19. Tanzanian President John Magufuli also says he will send a plane to bring the herbal remedy to Tanzania.
“As efforts are under way to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies," WHO writes in a press release.
A plane carrying humanitarian supplies for an INGO to assist in the COVID-19 response crashed near Baidoa, Somalia, killing six people on board.
May 3 — A random testing of 500 people in Kabul results in 150 positive cases of COVID-19, according to Afghanistan’s public health ministry. A ministry spokesperson calls the results concerning.
The West and Central Africa region accounts for 54% of cases and 35% of deaths in the World Health Organization’s Africa region, with cases in Guinea and Nigeria increasing most rapidly. Eight countries in the region are reporting community transmissions. The number of cases in the region could double each week, if this trend continues, according to WHO.
May 2 — Russia records a one-day record for the country with 9,623 new coronavirus infections. According to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, 2% of the city’s population has coronavirus.
India records 2,293 new cases in one day — the first time its daily count has surpassed 2,000.
Meanwhile, Iran, with 802 new COVID-19 cases, sees its lowest daily count in nearly two months.
Cases of coronavirus on the African continent surpass 40,000.
May 1 — “The window of opportunity to surge medical and humanitarian equipment into Africa to curb the pandemic is closing fast,” writes Amer Daoudi, COVID-19 response director for the World Food Programme, in a press release. Humanitarian actors and health officials are struggling to get supplies to fragile settings because of disruptions to supply chains and travel restrictions, according to the release. The agency previously launched a network of global logistic hubs to help ensure the delivery of medical and humanitarian supplies. May 1 sees the first flight of humanitarian workers transported from Ethiopia to Ghana.
WHO and the European Investment Bank, which is the world’s largest international public bank, announce a new partnership for the COVID-19 response. The first phase of the partnership aims to strengthen primary health care in 10 African countries and scale up financing to support supply chains, including those for personal protective equipment and diagnostics.
“Many countries right now are struggling to capture the deaths that are occurring from COVID-19. There is a very good example across Europe through the EuroMOMO project, which is capturing excess mortality in many countries across Europe. And excess mortality right now is very high," says Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference.
April 30 — Three months have passed since WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
While it is not ideal, in situations where widespread testing is not taking place, health workers should use “case definitions” — or rely on the presence of symptoms as a signal that a person is positive for COVID-19 — to trigger control measures and treatment, says Michel Yao, WHO’s emergency operations manager in Africa, during a press conference. This is important because early detection leads to better outcomes.
“It is done in many other outbreaks. In cholera, for example, where in the past we were not able to test everybody, we just confirm a few cases and rely on case definitions," he says.
Countries in WHO’s African region are only conducting an average of 9 coronavirus tests per 10,000 people.
Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, South Africa’s minister of health, says during the news briefing that he expects the peak of the outbreak in his country to take place between July and September. South Africa currently has the largest outbreak in sub-Saharan Africa. The country is considering lifting some of its strict lockdown measures, using a “case-by-case” strategy that depends on the nature of the outbreak in different areas, he says.
“Lockdowns are being eased in some parts of Africa, but we cannot just revert back to how things were before the outbreak. If governments abruptly end these measures, we risk losing the gains countries have made so far against COVID-19," writes Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, in a press release.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin tests positive for COVID-19. The country has over 100,000 confirmed cases.
Tajikistan and Comoros confirm their first cases of COVID-19.
April 29 — There are 370 million children missing out on school meals because of school closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund and World Food Programme.
Despite an announced ceasefire in Yemen, airstrikes are up 30%, according to the Yemen Data Project, complicating the COVID-19 response.
“With an increase in fighting and COVID-19 hitting the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, Yemen is on the brink of catastrophe. A ceasefire means an end to fighting, yet, we are seeing the opposite on the ground. An increase in airstrikes in Yemen is putting COVID-19 mitigation efforts and the overall humanitarian response at serious risk," writes Tamuna Sabadze, Yemen Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, in a press release.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the U.S. government’s coronavirus task force, says during a news briefing that results from a clinical trial of remdesivir, a potential COVID-19 treatment, show “quite good news.” In the study, patients taking the drug recovered 31% faster than those given placebos. “What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” he says.
April 28 — The number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpasses 1 million — accounting for one-third of the cases globally. The number of Americans killed by COVID-19 surpasses 58,000. Now, more Americans have died from this disease than were killed in the Vietnam War.
An analysis from the International Rescue Committee estimates that COVID-19 infections could reach between 500 million and 1 billion in 34 conflict-affected and fragile countries, including Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. This could lead to between 1.7-3.2 million deaths.
The World Bank’s controversial Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility announces it is allocating $195.8 million under its insurance scheme to 64 low-income countries. The facility has faced criticism in recent years for not issuing payments.
A group of scientists warn against the use of a tuberculosis vaccine to protect people from COVID-19 — it has not yet proven effective, although there are ongoing clinical trials aimed at determining whether it is. The scientists are concerned there could be global shortages of the vaccine, which could limit access to those using it to prevent TB.
April 27 — Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 3 million.
The United Nations Population Fund projects that 47 million women in 114 low- and middle-income countries could lose access to modern contraceptives because of the pandemic. If the lockdown persists for six months, this could result in 7 million unintended pregnancies.
ViiV Healthcare announces it is creating a £3 million ($3.7 million) emergency response fund for COVID-19 and HIV. The funds will go toward research to study the medical and scientific impact that COVID-19 has on people living with HIV, as well as community-based grants to assist with challenges faced by these communities.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that there is currently no widespread community transmission of COVID-19 in the country, saying “we have won that battle,” but that the country must remain vigilant to prevent a resurgence. New Zealand lifts some of its restrictions, allowing most businesses to reopen.
WHO expects to launch its second Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan this week, which will estimate the resources needed for the next stage of the response.
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee launches an inquiry into the White House’s decision to half funding to the World Health Organization. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat and chair of the committee, writes that the funding freeze “will only worsen an already dire situation by undermining one of our key tools to fight the spreading disease.”
April 26 — The Australian government launches a voluntary tracking app that uses a Bluetooth signal to determine when a person has been in contact with someone with COVID-19. Authorities can then alert this person about their exposure to the virus. The software is based on Singapore’s TraceTogether app.
Kenya reports COVID-19 cases in the Nairobi informal settlement of Kibera.
The United Nations launches a knowledge hub for the COVID-19 response in Africa.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Bill Gates says his foundation will give its “total attention” to the COVID-19 response.
April 25 — The global death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 200,000.
April 24 — The World Health Organization launches the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global initiative to speed up the development and production of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics to respond to COVID-19. The launch is attended virtually by heads of state, leaders of international health organizations, and representatives of private sector players in the health industry, who emphasize the importance of collaboration and ensuring equitable and affordable access to the tools being developed.
“Equity, access, and affordability are key tenets of our efforts. … We must come together to achieve all of these,” says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, special envoy for the ACT accelerator.
The launch will be followed by a virtual pledging conference on May 4, to be hosted by the European Commission. The event is meant to raise funding for COVID-19 vaccine research.
Niger reports a new polio outbreak. WHO says that a vaccination campaign will not be possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Niger stopped the previous polio outbreaks by mounting high-quality mass vaccination campaigns in 2019. Unfortunately, that will not be possible now as we have suspended the polio mass vaccination campaigns due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic responses that requires global standards for social distancing and hand washing hygiene practices,” says Dr. Pascal Mkanda, WHO polio eradication program coordinator for the African region, in a press release. “The poliovirus will inevitably continue to circulate and may paralyse more children as no high-quality immunization campaigns can be conducted in a timely manner."
Some governments are considering “immunity passports" or “risk-free certificates" for individuals that have developed antibodies after they’ve had COVID-19, as a strategy to allow parts of society to return to work and travel. In a scientific brief, WHO says there is no evidence showing that people who recovered from COVID-19 are protected against a second infection of the disease.
“People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission," according to the brief.
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 passes 50,000.
April 23 — On the African continent, there are over 25,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 1,200 deaths, says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, during a news briefing. South Africa is the most affected country there, with 3,300 cases, but the nation is “starting to see a bending of their curve,” she says. There are “concerning” increases in some countries in West Africa and in Tanzania.
“We are observing some countries take an approach to the response which is not quite what we are recommending. So certainly in Tanzania, we have observed that the physical distancing, including the prohibition of mass gatherings, took some time to happen, and we believe these might have been factors — or probably factors — in expanding the number of cases. We are seeing a rapid increase in cases there,” she says.
Recent analysis finds that if the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets, stops and case management reduces during the pandemic, malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could double in comparison with 2018, Moeti says. This would be the highest number of malaria deaths seen in the region since 2000.
The analysis states that malaria deaths could reach an estimated 769,000 across sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2020 if bed net campaigns are not implemented, while distribution of antimalarial treatments could be reduced by up to 75%. Seventy percent of those deaths will be children under 5 years old.
“We saw with the Ebola disease outbreak in West Africa that we actually lost more people to diseases that we previously managed to control, like malaria, than we lost to the outbreak itself. Let us not repeat that again with COVID-19,” she says.
WHO accidentally posts a draft document, then removes it, showing that the drug remdesivir was not shown to be effective in its first full trial, reports the Guardian. The trial was stopped early because of side-effects.
The first patients are injected with the first human COVID-19 vaccine trial in Europe.
April 22 — Outbreaks in Western Europe “appear to be stable or declining,” says World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference. “Although numbers are low, we see worrying upward trends in Africa, Central and South America, and Eastern Europe. Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics. And some that were affected early in the pandemic are now starting to see a resurgence in cases. Make no mistake: We have a long way to go. This virus will be with us for a long time.”
Of the countries that have reported data to WHO, only 66% have a clinical referral system in place for COVID-19 patients, 48% have a community engagement plan, and 48% have an infection prevention and control program and standards for water, sanitation, and hygiene in health facilities, Tedros says. “There are still many gaps in the world’s defenses, and no single country has everything in place," he says.
When asked whether WHO should have declared a pandemic sooner than March 11, Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, clarifies that the highest level of alert that WHO can declare is a public health emergency of international concern, which it did on Jan. 30. “The characterization of the disease as a pandemic, in itself, has no basis, other than a description of the event at that time,” he says. When the emergency declaration was made, there were only 82 cases outside of China — mostly “in the neighborhood” of the country — and no deaths, Tedros says.
The U.S. rejects the European Union’s calls to ease sanctions on Iran, preventing the International Monetary Fund from assisting the country with its COVID-19 response.
A Palestinian woman from Syria tests positive for COVID-19 in Lebanon — the first case identified in the country’s refugee camps.
April 21 — The World Food Programme warns the COVID-19 pandemic could nearly double the number of people suffering from acute hunger. This figure could surpass 250 million by the end of the year.
Health worker infections from COVID-19 are high in the Philippines at 13% compared to the estimated average of 2-3% in the region, says Abdi Mahamud, WHO COVID-19 incident manager for Western Pacific, during a press conference. The exact reasons are unclear, but the official mentioned PPE, or personal protective equipment, shortages, and an overwhelmed health care system potentially contributing to this high infection rate.
While COVID-19 cases in Japan continue to climb, reaching over 11,000, WHO Western Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai says during the briefing that Japan has not yet reached the stage of a large-scale community outbreak. Kasai also said the source of the virus remains unknown to date, amid speculations that the virus came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and not from the Huanan seafood market.
The rapid rise of COVID-19 infections in Singapore, oft-cited as a model of success in fighting the disease, provides lessons for countries to pay attention to vulnerable groups of the population, he says.
Simon McDonald, permanent undersecretary of the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, says to the Foreign Affairs Committee that U.S. officials have discussed the idea of a body separate from WHO, which would be responsible for pandemics, drawing parallels to when the World Food Programme “broke out” of the Food and Agriculture Organization in the 1960s. He says the U.K. “needs to be open at this stage to all these ideas.”
April 20 — Early data from some seroepidemiologic surveys suggest a relatively small percentage of the population — not more than 2% to 3% — may have been infected by COVID-19, even in heavily hit areas, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says during a press conference.
“… a lower percentage of people are actually — it appears — are infected. That means a large proportion of the public remains susceptible. That means that the virus can take off again," says Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
In response to criticisms that WHO ignored early warnings of human-to-human transmission, Tedros says that an email sent on December 31, 2019, by health officials in Taiwan was a call for WHO clarification on the outbreak. It was not a report of human-to-human transmission. “We have all the documentation,” he says.
The World Bank’s pandemic bond is set to pay out $132.5 million to some of the world’s poorest countries impacted by COVID-19. The financial instrument was launched in 2017, following the West Africa Ebola crisis.
WHO translates its press conference for the first time into all U.N. official languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. It will soon also add Swahili and Hindi.
April 19 — The death toll in Europe from COVID-19 surpasses 100,000. The death rate in Europe, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is nearly 9%.
United Nations agency heads, as well as the heads of the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response, International Council of Voluntary Agencies, InterAction, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies write an open letter to the donor community asking for $350 million to rapidly scale up the U.N.’s global logistics system to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The U.N. World Food Programme, which is managing the logistics around the global response, “urgently needs additional funding to establish the necessary transport hubs, charter vessels and provide aircraft for cargo, health workers and other essential staff,” according to the letter.
April 18 — Singapore sees a record spike of 942 new cases of COVID-19, bringing total cases to nearly 6,000.
In a letter to World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Medical Association calls on WHO to allow Taiwan into the organization, noting that “failure to listen to early warnings from Taiwan about the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with its decision to ignore Taiwan during much of the SARS crisis, were errors that led to the world paying a high price.”
While in the past Taiwan has been given observer status at WHO, in recent years it has been “locked out by the WHO as a result of the ‘One China’ policy,’” according to the letter.
April 17 — The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank announces it will double the funds in its COVID-19 crisis recovery facility, providing up to $10 billion in financing.
The prevention and control taskforce in Wuhan, China, revises the death toll in the city up 50%, from 2,579 to 3,869 deaths.
April 16 — On the African continent, there has been a rapid increase in cases over the past week in Niger, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon, as well as high death rates in Burkina Faso, Congo, and Algeria, says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, during a press conference.
“Eleven out of 17 [African] countries with more than 100 cases of COVID-19 are in West and Central Africa,” she writes in a press release. “We are working with the governments to better understand what is happening on the ground, but this is worrisome as countries in these subregions often have particularly fragile health systems.”
A lack of personal protective equipment is already impacting the COVID-19 response in many African countries, according to the release. In Niger, 32 health workers have tested positive for COVID-19. In Liberia, 20 health workers have tested positive for the virus.
WHO’s budget for the 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa will need about $300 million over the next six months, Moeti says during the press conference.
Beyond having an impact on the COVID-19 response, U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold funding from the agency could also cause harm to existing programming across the continent.
“The impact, potentially, of this decision will be quite significant on areas such as polio eradication. We are on the way to having the declaration of certification of polio being eradicated from Africa — the U.S. is one of the biggest supporters of that, as well as other priority programs that address communicable diseases such as HIV, malaria, and work on strengthening of our health systems. This I can describe as the extent of the U.S. contribution and potential impact of this decision, which we are very much hoping will be rethought," Moeti says.
One projection estimates that Africa could have more than 10 million severe cases of COVID-19, Michel Yao, WHO’s emergency operations manager in Africa, says during a press conference, noting that it’s difficult to make estimations because of the many factors involved.
There is one COVID-19 testing facility in Cox’s Bazar, one isolation space in the Rohingya camp and the local hospital has only 10 intensive care beds, Mohammed Riyas, director of programs in Cox’s Bazar for Plan International Bangladesh, writes in a press release, adding that Bangladesh’s government and humanitarian agencies are working to increase this capacity.
April 15 — The number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 2 million.
French President Emmanuel Macron tells Radio France Internationale that placing a hold on the debt payments of African governments is “an indispensable step" to assist the continent in its fight against COVID-19.
In a press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that the agency is internally assessing how the U.S. withdrawing financial support will affect its programs and that it will aim to fill any financial gaps left by the U.S. with other partners. He adds that WHO’s member states and independent bodies will conduct a performance review of the agency’s actions following the pandemic, as is standard for any outbreak.
“When we are divided, the virus exploits the cracks between us. We are committed to serving the world’s people and to accountability for the resources with which we are entrusted,” he says. “But for now, our focus, my focus, is on stopping this virus and saving lives. … WHO is getting on with the job.”
April 14 — The United Nations Children’s Fund warns that more than 117 million children in 37 countries could miss out on the measles vaccine because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Measles immunization campaigns have already been delayed in 24 countries.
The Ethiopian government and the World Food Programme launch a humanitarian air hub for the transport of supplies, equipment, and workers at the international airport in Addis Ababa.
The number of COVID-19 cases on the African continent surpasses 15,000.
April 13 — The International Monetary Fund approves immediate debt service relief to 25 countries through its Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust, which will provide about $500 million in grants to those countries. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urges donors to give more resources so the fund can provide debt service relief for two years to its poorest member countries.
The Asian Development Bank expands its COVID-19 response package to $20 billion from the initial $6.5 billion announced in March. The package, largely aimed at helping governments in the Asia-Pacific region mitigate the impact of the pandemic, includes $2.5 billion in concessional and grant resources.
China has imposed restrictions on the publication of research that focuses on the origins of COVID-19, CNN reports.
During a press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urges countries to only ease control efforts, such as stay-at-home orders, if the right public health measures are in place, including “significant capacity” for contact tracing. If countries are going to make this move, they must do it slowly, he added.
“While COVID-19 accelerates very fast, it decelerates much more slowly. In other words, the way down is much slower than the way up. That means control measures must be lifted slowly, and with control. It cannot happen all at once," he says.
April 12 — The International Rescue Committee launches an initiative that aims to help trained medical and health professionals who are refugees and immigrants but aren’t credentialed in the United States to help in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. There are currently about 165,000 refugees and immigrants in the U.S. that obtained their health-related education abroad.
The African Union appoints Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Tidjane Thiam, and Trevor Manuel as special envoys to mobilize international support to help Africa deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.
The U.K. government pledges £200 million ($250 million) to slow the spread of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries. The funds will go to U.N. agencies, including WHO, as well as the Red Cross and other organizations.
April 11 — The United States records over 2,000 deaths in one day — the highest death rate recorded for any country during the pandemic.
April 10 — Yemen reports its first case of COVID-19.
April 9 — One hundred days have passed since WHO was initially notified of COVID-19 in China, which was then only known as cases of “pneumonia with unknown cause.”
A two week ceasefire begins in Yemen, following calls from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to halt fighting amid the global pandemic.
“More than half of Yemen’s health facilities are no longer functioning and 18 million people do not have access to proper hygiene, water, and sanitation. Warring parties agreed to a ceasefire last weekend to allow for a COVID-19 scale-up, only to violate it two days later, and on Monday this week an isolation facility outside of Hodeidah was hit by an airstrike.
“This cannot happen again. We cannot control a global pandemic amongst bombs and airstrikes. We commend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the announcement, and we encourage them to stay true to their word,” says Tamuna Sabedze, Yemen country director at the International Rescue Committee.
A new report from IRC shows there are only four ventilators in South Sudan, 11 in northeast Syria, 13 in Sierra Leone, and 90% of hospitals lack critical supplies in Venezuela.
The Global Fund board approves the COVID-19 response mechanism, with an initial allocation of $500 million. The mechanism allows countries to request funding for COVID-19 response, and mitigate its impact on HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria programs. This follows the fund’s announcement in March that allowed countries to use up to 5% of their grants to prepare and respond to COVID-19.
April 8 — China lifts its lockdown on Wuhan, the city where the COVID-19 outbreak began.
In response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to withhold funds from WHO because the agency “missed the call” on the pandemic response, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a press conference, urges governments not to politicize the response.
“If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it,” he says.
“When there are cracks at national level and global level, that’s when the virus succeeds. For God’s sake, we have lost more than 60,000 citizens of the world,” he says, adding that there is no time to waste by “pointing fingers.”
WHO also launches the U.N. COVID-19 Supply Chain Task Force to meet needs and “dramatically scale up the supply" of lifesaving medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests.
South Sudan confirms its second case of COVID-19. Both cases are United Nations staff members.
April 7 — The Wellcome Trust launches an initiative that aims to raise at least $8 billion through the private sector by the end of the month to cover the global funding shortfall for vaccines, treatments, and testing for COVID-19.
“Scientists globally are working at tremendous pace to develop vaccines, test existing drugs that could treat COVID-19 and improve diagnostic tests. But they’re running out of funding fast which means new developments may never reach clinical trials and, ultimately, achieve regulatory approval," according to a Wellcome Trust press release.
The Rwandan government decides to cut the salary for a group of its officials in order to raise funds for social protection programs as part of its COVID-19 response.
April 6 — Almost 90% of students globally are affected by school closures — over 1.5 billion children and young people, according to WHO.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is moved to intensive care after his COVID-19 symptoms worsen.
The death toll in Europe from COVID-19 surpasses 50,000.
Countries that still have only a small number of cases, including those with imported cases rather than community transmission, still have a “window of opportunity” to prevent larger outbreaks, says Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference.
“There is an opportunity to prevent the worst from happening in a number of countries across Africa and across countries that are still seeing their first case; in some island countries," she says.
April 5 — South Sudan reports its first case of COVID-19: A United Nations Mission in South Sudan staff member.
The African Union estimates that 20 million jobs could be lost on the continent as a result of the pandemic.
April 4 —The African Development Bank estimates COVID-19 could cost Africa losses in GDP ranging between $22.1 billion and $88.3 billion. Deficits are estimated to widen by 3.5 to 4.9 percentage points, increasing the continent’s financing gap by $110 billion to $154 billion this year. Total public debt could increase from $1.86 trillion, at the end of last year, to over $2 trillion this year.
In an op-ed, Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AfDB Group, calls for a temporary deferment of debt owed to multilateral development banks and international financial institutions through the re-profiling of loans in order to create fiscal space for countries to deal with their response. He added that loan principals due to international financial institutions this year would be deferred, calling for temporary forbearance, rather than forgiveness.
“That way, we will avoid moral hazards, and rating agencies will be less inclined to penalize any institution on the potential risk to their Preferred Creditor Status," he writes. “Multilateral and bilateral financial institutions must work together with commercial creditors in Africa, especially to defer loan payments and give Africa the fiscal space it needs."
He also calls for a lift of sanctions: “Sanctions work against economies but not against the virus. If countries that are under sanctions are unable to respond and provide critical care for their citizens or protect them, then the virus will soon ‘sanction’ the world.”
April 3 — The global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is now estimated to be between $2 trillion and $4 trillion, according to the latest Asian Development Bank estimates. For low- and middle-income countries in Asia, excluding China, that means estimated economic losses of $93 billion to $200 billion, up from bank estimates of $15 billion to $42 billion in early March.
Those estimates are based on a 3 to 6-month scenario in which the pandemic is contained. The impact on the global economy could be higher if the pandemic is not contained by the end of September.
“The pandemic could leave permanent scars admittedly on the global economy, including retreat from globalization,” says ADB Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada.
Sawada says no economy in Asia would escape unscathed from the pandemic. Tourism-dependent economies, such as Maldives, Cambodia, Fiji, and Thailand, are likely to be hit hardest. Sawada said the pandemic could turn into a financial crisis, but with containment efforts and stimulus packages underway, the chance of a global recession is “very slim.”
The pandemic could also impact poverty eradication efforts in Asia, providing challenges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The United States, with the highest number of cases in the world, now has more than double the number of Italy, which has the second-highest number of cases in the world.
April 2 — Cases of COVID-19 surpass 1 million.
After 20 asylum-seekers test positive for COVID-19, Greece quarantines a refugee camp.
Cases of COVID-19 are growing “exponentially in the African region,” says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa, in a press release. “It took 16 days from the first confirmed case in the region to reach 100 cases. It took a further 10 days to reach the first thousand. Three days after this, there were 2000 cases, and two days later we were at 3000.”
A handful of cases have been reported in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is recovering from the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history. All provinces in South Africa have confirmed cases. There are also widespread outbreaks in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Senegal, according to WHO.
The World Bank Group announces it will “deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support COVID-19 measures that will help countries respond to immediate health consequences of the pandemic and bolster economic recovery."
April 1 — The COP26 U.N. climate change conference, which was scheduled to take place this November in Glasgow, Scotland, is postponed and will be rescheduled for 2021.
The Global Partnership for Education announces $250 million to “help developing countries mitigate both the immediate and long-term disruptions to education being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic." The funds will go to 67 countries in areas such as producing educational radio and television programs, as well as distributing radios and textbooks.
The number of deaths from COVID-19 globally has more than doubled in the past week.
March 31 — WHO Western Pacific Regional Director Dr. Takeshi Kasai expresses concerns about how travel restrictions are impacting Pacific island countries’ ability to diagnose COVID-19 cases. Lacking laboratory capacity, most countries need to ship specimen samples outside their territories. He calls on the international community to prioritize test kits that can run on GeneXpert machines, as these are available in many Pacific countries.
An International Rescue Committee international staff member who is working on the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo tests positive for COVID-19.
March 30 — Johnson & Johnson announces the selection of a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The company expects to start human trials by September, at the latest, and anticipates the first batches of a vaccine could be available for U.S. Food and Drug Administration “emergency use authorization" in early 2021.
The University of Washington, University of Oxford, and La Jolla Institute for Immunology receive $20 million to fund clinical trials to identify highly potent immunotherapies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants come from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard.
According to the U.N. Development Programme, income losses are expected to surpass $220 billion in low- and middle-income countries. Almost half of jobs in Africa could be lost.
“For vast swathes of the globe, the pandemic will leave deep, deep scars,” says Achim Steiner, administrator of UNDP. “Without support from the international community, we risk a massive reversal of gains made over the last two decades, and an entire generation lost, if not in lives then in rights, opportunities, and dignity.”[a][b]
March 29 — Global death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 30,000.
March 28 — Cases of COVID-19 worldwide surpass 600,000.
Spain and Italy hit new records for the number of dead in one day. Spain records 832 dead and Italy records 889.
March 27 —The African Development Bank launches a $3 billion social bond to help the continent manage the economic and social impact of COVID-19. It is the largest social bond ever launched in international capital markets and the largest U.S. dollar benchmark ever issued by the bank.
The World Health Organization announces that the first patients will shortly be enrolled in Norway and Spain in a trial called the Solidarity Trial, comparing the effectiveness of four different drugs or drug combinations against COVID-19. “This is a historic trial that will dramatically cut the time needed to generate robust evidence about what drugs work," says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu during a press conference. More than 45 countries are contributing to the trial.
In a conference call focused on how COVID-19 is impacting sexual and reproductive health, Chris Purdy, president and CEO at DKT International, says he wants to “ring the alarm bell" about what is coming. “In every single link of the supply chain we are seeing disruption. This disruption, I fear, is going to result, if things aren’t addressed quickly, in more stock outs, shortages and a lack of access in coming months," he says.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19.
March 26 — The African continent does not have the manufacturing capacity to produce health machines such as ventilators and respirators, says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, during a press conference, noting that the continent is dependent on Western countries and countries in Asia, including China and India.
“We would need to rely very much on these types of countries that have really strong industrialization and production capacity immediately, urgently, and see if they can manufacture in sufficient numbers," she says. “We need global solidarity so that those countries that don’t have the production capacity can also be enabled to import, working with partners, some of these key items that are needed to support their own response to the outbreak."
There is also a need for conversations with African countries on repurposing existing manufacturing facilities to produce these machines, says Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, during the press conference. This could include manufacturing facilities in South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia
“It’s a conversation that needs to start now, and start urgently," he says.
March 25 — The United Nations launches a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan appeal to assist vulnerable countries in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds would go to laboratory equipment, medical supplies, handwashing stations, public information campaigns, and the creation of air bridges and hubs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to move humanitarian workers and supplies.
“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity — and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough,” says U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres when announcing the appeal.
“COVID-19 is menacing the whole of humanity — and so the whole of humanity must fight back. Individual country responses are not going to be enough.”
— António Guterres, secretary-general, United Nations
During a press conference, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu lists six steps countries should take as they are in lockdown mode: expand, train, and deploy health care workforce; create systems to find all suspected case at community levels; increase production and availability of testing; identify and equip facilities needed to treat and isolate patients; develop plans on how to quarantine contacts; and focus the whole government on the suppression and control of the pandemic.
“These measures are the best way to suppress and stop transmission, so that when restrictions are lifted, the virus doesn’t resurge. The last thing any country needs is to open schools and businesses, only to be forced to close them again because of a resurgence," he says.
March 24 — Cases of COVID-19 surpass 400,000. It took over three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases, 12 days to reach 200,000, three days to reach 300,000, and two days to reach 400,000.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces a lockdown of 21 days for the country’s 1.3 billion residents. This is the largest lockdown announced since the beginning of the outbreak.
The Chinese government announces it will lift the lockdown on Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, on April 8.
An Asian Development Bank employee tests positive for COVID-19.
March 23 — World Bank Group President David Malpass calls on bilateral creditors of the lowest-income countries to provide debt relief so these countries can focus resources on the COVID-19 pandemic, during a G-20 finance ministers conference call. He also calls on countries to implement structural reforms including removing “obstacles” such as “excessive regulations, subsidies, licensing regimes, trade protection or litigiousness.”
African finance ministers call for $100 billion in funding for economic stimulus and a suspension of interest payments on public debt and sovereign bonds.
Norway creates a multidonor fund with the United Nations to assist low- and middle-income countries respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
“Asking people to stay at home and other physical distancing measures are an important way of slowing down the spread of the virus and buying time — but they are defensive measures. To win, we need to attack the virus with aggressive and targeted tactics — testing every suspected case, isolating and caring for every confirmed case, and tracing and quarantining every close contact,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu says at a press conference.
Hacking attempts on the World Health Organization have doubled, Reuters reports.
Myanmar and Belize report first cases of COVID-19.
March 22 — Global cases of COVID-19 surpass 300,000. It took over three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases, 12 days to reach 200,000 and three days to reach 300,000.
A cargo flight lands in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 5.4 million face masks, 1.08 million COVID-19 diagnostic tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing, and 60,000 sets of protective face shields for distribution throughout the African continent. The medical supplies were donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation. Ma also announced that his foundation would donate emergency supplies to 17 countries in Asia and Latin America.
The World Health Organization says there is “a rise in criminals disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information."
Palestinian health officials report the first two cases of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip.
Uganda, Grenada, Mozambique, Dominica, and Syria report first cases of COVID-19.
March 21 — Ecuador’s health and labor ministers resign after cases in the country surpass 500.
East Timor, Angola, and Eritrea report first cases of COVID-19.
March 20 — The Asian Development Bank is making adjustments to its annual meeting this year. The bank is moving its full annual meeting to Sept. 18-21, in Incheon, South Korea. Meanwhile, its board of governors will meet on May 22 in Manila, Philippines, to consider the bank’s financial statements and net income allocation.
The World Health Organization says it’s identified some producers in China that have agreed to supply WHO with personal protective equipment. The agency is now finalizing arrangements and coordinating shipments in order to refill its warehouse in Dubai and make global shipments.
WHO launches a health alert messaging service through WhatsApp and Facebook. People can access this service by sending “hi" to this WhatsApp number: +41 798 931 892.
“One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared. Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu says at a press conference.
Papua New Guinea, Cape Verde, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar report first cases of COVID-19.
March 19 — Cases of COVID-19 surpass 200,000 globally. It took over three months to reach the first 100,000 confirmed cases and just 12 days to reach the next 100,000.
World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley tests positive for COVID-19 after returning to the U.S. following a visit to Canada.
The Rockefeller Foundation commits $20 million to the COVID-19 response, with a particular focus in Bellagio, Italy; New York, NY; Washington, DC; Nairobi, Kenya; and Bangkok, Thailand.
“For the younger patients the bigger risk is developing pulmonary fibrosis after surviving the disease," says Dr. Frank Minja, associate professor of radiology and biomedical imaging at Yale University School of Medicine during a conference call hosted by the Africa CDC. “This may be something as radiologists we may be diagnosing for years to come as more and more patients are being exposed to this disease,” Minja says.
For the first time since the outbreak began, Wuhan reports no new cases.
Mauritius, Fiji, Chad, Niger, and Haiti report first cases of COVID-19.
March 18 — Two Washington, D.C.-based employees of the World Bank Group have tested positive for COVID-19, World Bank President David Malpass has said in a memo obtained by Devex. In the memo, Malpass says it is likely that more cases will be diagnosed among the bank’s employees in the coming days and weeks. World Bank Group staff members at the Washington headquarters were advised last week to work from home after an International Monetary Fund employee tested positive for the virus.
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations provides $620,000 to The University of Hong Kong to support preclinical testing of another vaccine candidate against COVID-19. This is the seventh vaccine development project against COVID-19 CEPI has invested in since January.
The World Health Organization launches a study to compare untested treatments of COVID-19 against one another called the “solidarity trial.” Countries currently included are Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and Thailand.
“Multiple small trials with different methodologies may not give us the clear, strong evidence we need about which treatments help to save lives," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu says at a press conference.
The African Development Bank announces that staff will work through telecommuting and video conferencing, while visits to buildings will be suspended along with the cancelation of all travel, meetings, and conferences.
Kyrgyzstan, Djibouti, Zambia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua report first cases of COVID-19.
March 17 — Bloomberg Philanthropies announces $40 million for a COVID-19 global response initiative to prevent and slow the spread in low- and middle-income countries. This includes funding rapid response teams, training health care workers, increasing lab capacity, measuring acceptance of social distancing activities through phone surveys, providing communications support for public education campaigns, and providing expertise for health organizations. It will have a “strong focus” on African nations.
WHO confirms two staff members at its Geneva headquarters tested positive with COVID-19.
Cases of COVID-19 surpass 480 in Southeast Asia. WHO calls on countries in the region “to urgently scale-up aggressive measures” to combat its spread.
The International Organization for Migration and The UN Refugee Agency temporarily suspend refugee resettlement departures to reduce the spread of the virus.
The World Bank Group announces an additional $2 billion in funding to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montenegro, Barbados, Gambia, and Montserrat report first cases of COVID-19.
March 16 — For the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, infections and deaths outside China surpass those within China.
The Jack Ma Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation are sending 500,000 testing kits and 1 million masks in donations to the U.S.
“We have also seen a rapid escalation in social distancing measures, like closing schools and cancelling sporting events and other gatherings. But we have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation and contact tracing — which is the backbone of the response," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu says during a press conference.
“This is the defining global health crisis of our time,” he said.
WHO announces its staff is now working through “teleworking arrangements,” except for workers whose position requires them to access the agency’s facilities.
Somalia, Benin, Liberia, and Tanzania report first cases of COVID-19.
March 15 — Cases in Africa are on the rise. A week ago there were 27 cases on the continent.
Now, there are 273 confirmed cases in 26 countries and 6 deaths. Countries respond with travel restrictions.
German government sources tell Reuters that the U.S. is trying to convince German firm CureVac to move research on a potential vaccine to the United States.
The European Commission implements restrictions on export of personal protective equipment supplies, such as masks, face shields, and protective garments, outside the European Union. Any exports of this equipment require authorization by EU member states.
Uzbekistan and the Bahamas report first cases of COVID-19.
March 14 — Namibia, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, Seychelles, and Eswatini confirm first cases of COVID-19.
Read: Will the private sector unite to fight COVID-19?
March 13 — “Europe has now become the epicenter of the pandemic, with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu says during a press conference. “More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic.”
Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, speaks during a press conference about the need to support countries as they expand the number of people tested for the virus.
“If there are countries that are starting to identify cases and starting to identify large numbers of cases because they are looking, because they are doing aggressive case and contact finding, they shouldn’t be punished for that. It’s really important that we support countries in doing the right measures, and sometimes that’s going to mean the numbers are going to increase,” she says.
WHO, the United Nations Foundation, and partners launch the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund to support at-risk countries with weak health systems in preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approves a €1 billion ($1.1 billion) package to help companies in the region with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group advise employees at their Washington, D.C. headquarters to work from home after an IMF employee is confirmed positive for the virus.
Kazakhstan, Sudan, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Antigua and Barbuda, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Uruguay, Guatemala, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Mauritania confirm first cases of COVID-19.
March 12 — The Pacific confirms its first case of COVID-19. The patient is Maina Sage, a French Polynesian politician who recently returned from Paris.
The Asian Development Bank asks its staff at its Manila headquarters to work from home temporarily after a visitor tested positive for COVID-19. But bank operations continue. ADB announces $200 million will be made available to companies in the supply chain critical in combating the COVID-19 outbreak. The money will be made available through its Supply Chain Finance Program.
A diplomat from the Philippines tests positive for COVID-19, marking the first case at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Trinidad and Tobago, Ghana, and Gabon confirm first cases of COVID-19.
March 11 — WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declares the global COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. “We are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he says, adding that “we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.” The decision has been made based on input from experts both internally and externally.
While only eight countries in Africa have reported cases of COVID-19, there is concern that weak surveillance systems are not identifying existing cases, says Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference. “We believe there may be an element of underdiagnosis in some countries and we are chasing that and trying to activate surveillance on the whole continent," he says.
After the first case of COVID-19 was detected in DRC this week, WHO is redirecting some of its Ebola response capacity toward the potential isolation and treatment of cases, Ryan says. Last week, the last Ebola patient was discharged from a treatment center. Responders say that resources are still needed to ensure there is not a resurgence of the virus.
The U.K. announces up to $192.4 million (£150 million) in aid funding from the nation’s budget to “mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the world’s most vulnerable countries."
Turkey, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Guyana, Honduras, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines confirm first cases of COVID-19.
In places such as Iran, North Korea, and Syria, sanctions are hindering the response to the outbreak, impacting countries’ ability to purchase test kits, medicines, equipment, and other necessary items.
March 10 — The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, is investing a further $4.4 million for vaccine development efforts against COVID-19, bringing the organization’s total investments to $23.7 million. The money will be used to help Novavax and the University of Oxford in their vaccine development work.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and Mastercard commit up to $125 million to speed up the response to the COVID-19 epidemic by developing and scaling up treatments, with a focus on making products broadly available and affordable.
UK health minister Nadine Dorries tests positive for COVID-19.
Brunei Darussalam, Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Jamaica, and Mongolia report first cases of COVID-19.
March 9 — WHO moves closer to declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
“Now that the virus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real,” Tedros says during a press conference.
WHO experts say they are concerned about how the world will respond to that declaration — potentially causing an abandonment of efforts to control the spread of the virus.
“Will the reaction to the word [pandemic] be: Let’s fight? Let’s push this disease back? Or will the reaction to the word be: Let’s give up,” asks Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
Albania, Cyprus, Burkina Faso, and Panama report first cases of COVID-19.
March 8 — Over 100 countries report cases of COVID-19.
Bulgaria and Bangladesh report first cases of COVID-19.
March 7 — The number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 100,000.
Malta, Moldova, Paraguay, and the Maldives report first cases of COVID-19.
March 6 — The U.K. announces a £46 million ($59.9 million) package for the COVID-19 response, funded by the country’s international development budget. It includes funding for the development of a vaccine and a rapid diagnostic test.
WHO says there are more than 200 clinical trials registered that look at different therapeutics to treat COVID-19, as well as traditional Chinese medicine, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
Slovakia, Bhutan, Peru, Costa Rica, Columbia, Cameroon, and Togo report first cases of COVID-19.
March 5 — The International Monetary Fund chief, Kristalina Georgieva, says emerging market and low-income countries dealing with, or at-risk of, COVID-19 will have access to $50 billion through IMF’s rapid-disbursing emergency financing facilities. Twenty percent of this, or $10 billion, is available at 0% interest for lowest-income countries.
“Under any scenario, global growth in 2020 will drop below last year’s level. How far it will fall, and for how long, is difficult to predict, and would depend on the epidemic, but also on the timeliness and effectiveness of our actions,” Georgieva writes in the IMF blog.
As the global health community tries to fast-track the development of a vaccine, it is looking for answers from lessons learned — or not learned — from past outbreaks.
Australia’s support to the Indo-Pacific region to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak is being partly paid for from existing official development assistance funding, but its impact on other existing or planned projects is unknown.
U.S. Congress approves an emergency spending package to fund efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. About $1.25 billion will be spent internationally.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, South Africa, and Palestine report their first cases of COVID-19.
March 4 — The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria says countries may use savings from their existing grants for COVID-19 response, with a limit of up to 5% of the grant’s total value. Eligible activities under this guidance include epidemic preparedness assessment, laboratory testing, transporting of samples, use of surveillance infrastructure, infection control in health facilities, and information campaigns.
In exceptional cases, countries may also be able to reprogram funding from existing grants for the same purposes. All are subject for approval, but the Global Fund says it will fast-track the process by responding within five working days.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says COVID-19 has disrupted the education of 290.5 million students globally, which is an “unprecedented” figure. This includes school closures in 13 countries.
Poland reports its first case of COVID-19.
March 3 — The World Bank Group commits $12 billion in immediate support to help countries strengthen health systems and to help cope with economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.
To meet global demand for personal protective equipment, the World Health Organization estimates that industry needs to increase manufacturing by 40%. An estimated 89 million medical masks, 76 million examination gloves, and 1.6 million goggles are required each month for the COVID-19 response.
Ukraine, Argentina, and Chile report their first cases of COVID-19.
March 2 — The United States commits $37 million from the Emergency Reserve Fund for Contagious Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Agency for International Development for countries affected by COVID-19 or at high risk of its spread. These are the first of the funds committed from the pledge of up to $100 million announced on Feb. 7. Countries include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Tajikistan, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
A team of WHO experts lands in Iran to support the outbreak response with technical assistance, bringing medical supplies and protective equipment for over 15,000 health care workers and enough laboratory kits to test nearly 100,000 people. A WHO staff member in Iran tests positive for COVID-19.
Over the past 24 hours, there were nearly nine times more new cases reported outside China than within China.
Influenza is different than COVID-19 because there are treatments, vaccines, and there is an understanding of its transmission and patterns, says Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director at the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference. “Here we have a disease in which we have no vaccine, no treatment, we don’t fully understand transmission, we don’t really understand case fatality. What we have been genuinely heartened by is that unlike influenza, where countries have fought back, where they’ve put in place strong measures, we’ve remarkably seen that the virus is suppressed.”
Indonesia, Senegal, Portugal, Andora, Latvia, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia report their first cases of COVID-19.
March 1 — The United Nations releases $15 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to the World Health Organization and UNICEF to support vulnerable countries in areas including monitoring the spread of COVID-19, investigating cases, and operating national laboratories.
The number of new cases of COVID-19 in Hubei province, China — the epicenter of the outbreak — increased for two successive days following a period of decline in the number of new cases.
Countries should work to increase the availability of pulse oximeters and medical oxygen systems, according to WHO.
South Korea, with 3,736 cases, and Italy, with 1,128 cases, have the most cases outside of China.
Czech Republic, Iceland, and Armenia report their first cases of COVID-19. The Dominican Republic also reports the first confirmed case of COVID-19 — a 62-year-old Italian man who arrived in the country on Feb. 22. This is the first confirmed case in the Caribbean.
Feb. 29 — The World Health Organization updates its guidance on travel restrictions. While it continues to advise against travel or trade restrictions, it notes that in certain circumstances countries can use travel restrictions temporarily, such as in settings with few international connections and limited response capacities. It says that countries can only justify significant travel restrictions at the beginning of an outbreak to give a country time to implement preparedness measures for an outbreak.
“Travel bans to affected areas or denial of entry to passengers coming from affected areas are usually not effective in preventing the importation of cases but may have a significant economic and social impact," according to the guidance.
WHO also says that temperature screening alone at airports and borders is not an effective way to stop international spread because people may be in an incubation period and not showing symptoms or be using antipyretics to reduce fever.
“Such measures require substantial investments for what may bear little benefits. It is more effective to provide prevention recommendation messages to travellers and to collect health declarations at arrival, with travellers’ contact details, to allow for a proper risk assessment and a possible contact tracing of incoming travellers," WHO says.
WHO also recommends that countries intensify surveillance for “unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia and monitor carefully the evolution of COVID-19 outbreaks, reinforcing epidemiological surveillance."
Ecuador, Qatar, Monaco, and Luxembourg report first cases of COVID-19.
Feb. 28 — The World Health Organization raises the global risk of spread of COVID-19 from “high” to “very high.”
“This is a reality check for every government on the planet. Wake up. Get ready. This virus may be on its way, and you need to be ready,” says Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference.
In recent days, 24 new cases originating from Italy have been reported in 14 countries, and 97 cases originating in Iran have been reported in 11 countries.
More than 20 vaccines are in development globally, and several therapeutics are in clinical trials, with results from those trials expected in a few weeks, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says during a press conference.
A WHO delegation for assisting with the outbreak in Iran has experienced delays because of “severe issues with getting flights and access to Iran right now,” Ryan says. The team is expected to arrive by March 1 at the earliest.
WHO officials say it is not yet time to declare a pandemic, adding that once one is declared, efforts will move away from containment to mitigation.
“To declare a pandemic — it’s unhelpful to do that when you are still trying to contain a disease,” Ryan says. “China has clearly shown that this is not necessarily the natural outcome of this event if we take action, if we move quickly, if we do the things we need to do.”
According to Tedros, of the 46 countries that have reported cases, eight have not reported new cases over the past two weeks, 23 have reported only one case each, and a “good number” of those 23 countries have reported fewer than 10 cases.
“What containment is also doing is slowing down the virus. We’ve already seen in countries and quite sophisticated countries — who’ve had a rapid rise in cases in the last week — are having trouble coping with the clinical caseloads. And we need to keep this virus slowed down. Health systems around the world — and I mean North and South — are just not ready,” Ryan says.
Research has shown that some people have recovered from COVID-19, tested negative for the virus, and then tested positive again. Further study is needed on whether there is a viable virus present in these individuals and whether these people are actually shedding live virus, says Kerkhove, during a press conference.
There are 36,117 people in China that have recovered from the disease, according to WHO.
Thirty-eight countries reported to WHO they’ve instituted travel restrictions, including travel bans of visitors from China or other countries reporting transmission of COVID-19, quarantine of foreigners, self-isolation of returning citizens and visa restrictions. There have been no trade restrictions.
Nigeria, New Zealand, Belarus, Mexico, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Ireland, and Iceland report their first COVID-19 cases.
Feb. 27 — The number of infections globally continues to grow. There are 3,474 cases of COVID-19 — including 54 deaths — outside of China in 44 countries.
Denmark, Estonia, San Marino, and the Netherlands report first cases of the virus.
“We are at a decisive point,” says Tedros during a press conference. “My message to each of these countries is: This is your window of opportunity. If you act aggressively now, you can contain this virus. You can prevent people getting sick. You can save lives. So my advice to these countries is to move swiftly.”
Belgium, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Philippines, Russia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam have not reported new cases in more than two weeks, according to Tedros.
One of Iran’s vice presidents, Masoumeh Ebtekar, is infected with COVID-19. She’s one of several Iranian officials who has tested positive for the virus. Others include members of parliament Mojtaba Zolnour and Mahmoud Sadeghi; Morteza Rahmanzadeh, mayor of Tehran; and Iraj Harirchi, Iran’s deputy health minister.
Feb. 26 — Brazil confirms its first case of COVID-19, marking the first case in South America. Cases of the virus have now been confirmed on every continent except Antarctica.
Greece, Georgia, North Macedonia, Norway, Romania and Pakistan report their first cases of COVID-19.
For the first time since the outbreak began, there are more new cases reported outside China, 459, than in China, 412.
The Asian Development Bank approves another $2 million to help countries in Asia and the Pacific prepare for, respond to, and boost their resilience against COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
The European Commission requests member states to review pandemic preparedness plans, and inform the commission of how they plan to implement them. The commission also announces an initiative to launch a joint procurement procedure to support its member states in accessing personal protective equipment as COVID-19 cases rise in the region, Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety, says during a press conference in Italy.
Feb. 25 — Algeria reports its first case of COVID-19 — an Italian adult, who arrived in the country on Feb. 17. This is the second confirmed case on the African continent.
Switzerland, Croatia, and Austria report their first cases.
Iran’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, who is leading the nation’s COVID-19 task force, has contracted the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns about the likely spread of COVID-19 in the United States, urging the population to “prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, cautioned during a press briefing: “It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen.”
Feb. 24 — “We must focus on containment, while doing everything we can to prepare for a potential pandemic," says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference.
The Asian Development Bank advises delegates planning to attend its annual meeting that it is monitoring the situation in South Korea, where the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is now over 700, according to the latest situation report by WHO. The bank’s 53rd annual meeting is scheduled to take place from May 2-5 in Incheon, South Korea.
The European Commission announces a new aid package of €232 million ($252 million) for global preparedness and response to COVID-19. The bulk of the money is for WHO’s work and for a public-private partnership supporting the pharmaceutical industry’s search for a vaccine against the disease. A small percentage — €3 million — is for the repatriation of EU citizens from Wuhan, China.
Cases in China are falling, according to Dr. Bruce Aylward, who led the external experts on a mission in China for the past two weeks — from an average of 2,500 cases two weeks ago to 400 cases today. But he warned against complacency.
Aylward says the world needs to prioritize studies that can stop the outbreak faster and can reduce morbidity and mortality. He said at the moment, only one drug, remdesivir, seems to be showing real efficacy against the disease.
In addition, countries that serve as a second line of defense for low-income countries, should think about what measures they can take to ensure the virus doesn’t reach those with less capacity to handle an outbreak, Aylward said.
The host of COVID-19 remains unclear, says Liang Wannian, leader of the National Health Commission Expert Team for the epidemic response in China. But according to currently available data, bats may be the host and pangolins intermediate hosts of the virus. Some evidence also points to virus transmission through oral-fecal route and aerosol transmission, but this needs further confirmation. It’s also still unclear whether asymptomatic carriers of the virus can spread the disease.
The case fatality rate in China is between 3% and 4%, but less than 1% in cities and provinces outside Wuhan.
US biotech firm Moderna sends an experimental COVID-19 vaccine to the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for a planned phase one study in the U.S.
Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Oman report first cases of COVID-19.
Feb. 23 — South Korean President Moon Jae-in announces the highest level of alert after the country surpasses 340 cases of COVID-19, the majority of which were discovered in the past few days. This empowers the government to take measures such as restricting public transportation and banning visitors from certain countries.
Cases of COVID-19 in Italy continue to rise in what has become the largest outbreak outside of Asia.
Neighboring countries close their borders with Iran, fearing a spread of the outbreak.
Feb. 22 — WHO conducts a survey of African countries to assess their overall readiness for COVID-19 and finds the regional readiness level is at about 66%. “We need urgently to prioritize strengthening the capacities for countries to investigate alerts, treat patients in isolation facilities and improve infection, prevention and control in health facilities and in communities," says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, in a press release.
The African Union Commission hosts an emergency meeting on the COVID-19 outbreak with health ministers from across the continent.
Feb. 21 — WHO says it is concerned about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Iran, which has 18 cases and has seen four deaths in the past two days. The country reported its first cases on Feb. 19.
WHO appoints six special envoys on COVID-19 to “provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in different parts of the world."
Lebanon confirms its first case of COVID-19: A woman who arrived from Iran and is now quarantined at a hospital in Beirut.
Israel confirms its first case of COVID-19: A person who had been quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan’s coast.
“We are concerned about the number of cases with no clear epidemiological link, such as travel history to China or contact with a confirmed case,” says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference. He says that the window of opportunity to contain the outbreak is “narrowing.”
While the number of cases in China’s Hubei province — the epicenter of the outbreak — continues to decline, WHO says it is concerned about an increase in the number of cases in Shandong province.
Over 500 new cases of COVID-19 are traced to four prisons in China.
Feb. 20 — Peng Yinhua, a 29-year-old respiratory doctor in Wuhan, dies from COVID-19.
Iran reports five cases of COVID-19 in two days, two of which have resulted in death. These are the first deaths from COVID-19 in the Middle East.
South Korea sees a spike in cases, bringing its count to 104. The country now has the second-highest number of cases outside of mainland China. The new cases are concentrated in the city of Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang province.
Outside of China, there are 1,076 cases in 26 countries, with seven deaths.
China has again changed the way that it classifies confirmed cases, removing the category of “clinically diagnosed,” which includes the use of chest exams. “Some previously reported ‘clinically diagnosed’ cases are thus expected to be discarded over the coming days as laboratory testing is conducted and some are found to be COVID-19-negative," according to WHO.
“This virus is very dangerous, and it’s public enemy No. 1. But it’s not being treated as such, and one important indicator is the response, especially to financing the response," says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference.
Feb. 19 — The death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 2,000.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS reports that, in a survey, nearly one-third of respondents living with HIV in China say they are at risk of running out of their HIV treatment in the coming days due to lockdowns and restrictions on movement amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
China revokes the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters. The government’s Foreign Ministry says the move was retribution for a recent opinion piece published by the media outlet.
Iran reports first COVID-19 cases.
Feb. 18 — There are currently 92 documented cases in 12 countries other than China in which human-to-human transmission of the virus has occurred.
Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang Hospital in Wuhan, dies from COVID-19.
Countries work to evacuate their citizens from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is quarantined in Japan, as the number of COVID-19 cases on the ship surpasses 450. “Clearly there has been more transmission than expected on the ship, and I think the authorities in Japan are adjusting to that reality now and taking the necessary public health measures with other countries to evacuate people and deal with their follow up in a different way,” says Ryan, during a press conference.
Feb. 17 — China publishes a paper with detailed information on more than 44,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The data appears to show that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other types of coronaviruses, including severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome. The data shows that more than 80% of patients have mild disease; about 14% of cases lead to severe diseases, including pneumonia; about 5% of cases lead to critical diseases including respiratory failure, septic shock and multiorgan failure; and about 2% of reported cases lead to death. Mortality rates increase in older patients, with few cases among children.
“This new data addresses some of the gaps in our understanding, but others remain," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference.
WHO switches methods for reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases, now aligning with how the Chinese government has reported cases since Feb. 13. WHO previously reported only laboratory-confirmed cases but now includes cases that are clinically confirmed via chest imaging.
Feb. 16 — An American woman who had been on a cruise ship that docked in Cambodia, tests positive for COVID-19 after flying to Malaysia. The ship originally set sail from Hong Kong on Feb.1, with 1,455 passengers and 802 members of its crew.
Taiwan reports its first death from COVID-19, marking the fifth death from the virus outside of mainland China.
Feb. 15 — France reports the first death from COVID-19 outside of Asia — an 80-year-old tourist from Hubei province.
In a speech at the Munich Security Conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for an increase in funding to the response. “We’re concerned by the lack of urgency in funding the response from the international community,” he said.
Feb. 14 — China reports that 1,716 health workers have contracted COVID-19 and that six of them have died. “We’ve seen this before with MERS, we’ve seen this before with SARS, we’ve certainly seen this with hemorrhagic fevers," says Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference. “Our understanding is that the cases amongst health workers peaked in the third and fourth week of January and that there has been a rapid fall-off in the number of cases that have occurred in health workers in the last two weeks."
Overall, the percentage of health workers infected with COVID-19 is lower than what has occurred historically in outbreaks of other kinds of coronaviruses, he says.
Egypt reports its first case of COVID-19. This is the first case confirmed on the African continent and the first new country to see a case since Feb. 4.
Feb. 13 — Overnight, China reports a spike in cases, with 14,840 cases in Hubei province. This is due to the fact that the Chinese government changed its reporting to include both laboratory-confirmed cases and clinically diagnosed cases. This includes a medical professional classifying a confirmed case on the basis of chest imaging. “We understand that most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, since some time back to the beginning of the outbreak itself," says Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Programme, during a press conference.
WHO is still only reporting laboratory-confirmed cases. The rest of the world is also only reporting laboratory-confirmed cases.
The third death from the virus outside of mainland China is confirmed in Japan. The previous deaths took place in Hong Kong and the Philippines.
There could be information in a matter of weeks about the impact of drugs currently in trial to treat the virus, according to WHO.
A successful vaccine will require huge investments, according to WHO. “Making a decision to advance a vaccine to phase one, phase two, phase three trials, requires hundreds of millions of dollars to be invested. We may have to invest in multiple candidates, without any certainty that one of them will work," WHO’s Ryan says.
WHO says 17 countries in Africa now have the capacity to test for COVID-19. This is a clarification from Feb. 7, when WHO had said 28 countries in Africa have the capacity.
Feb. 12 — The number of countries outside China reporting cases has not changed since Feb. 4.
A total of 175 people test positive for COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is quarantined in Japan.
Cambodia agrees to accept a cruise ship that had been turned away from five ports, over fears that passengers might have COVID-19.
A global research and innovation forum on COVID-19 concludes. Top research priorities identified include finding simpler diagnostic tools, best approaches for infection prevention, optimal treatment for patients, and acceleration of the development of vaccines and therapeutics.
Feb. 11 — WHO assigns the novel coronavirus its official name: COVID-19.
A United Nations Crisis Management Team is activated, led by Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director at WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.
A global research and innovation forum starts in Geneva, aimed at creating a roadmap for identifying research priorities on COVID-19.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls the outbreak a “very grave threat for the rest of the world.”
WHO says a vaccine could be available in an estimated 18 months.
Death toll from the outbreak reaches over 1,000.
Feb. 10 — An advance team for the WHO-led 2019-nCoV international mission leaves for China.
WHO chief Tedros says instances of onward transmission from people with no travel history to China are concerning, and that “the detection of this small number of cases could be the spark that becomes a bigger fire."
WHO and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics announce that a memorandum of understanding was signed focused on strengthening diagnostic systems in resource-limited countries, saying that the ongoing 2019-nCoV outbreak has highlighted the need to close these gaps.
The U.K.’s health department declares 2019-nCoV an “imminent threat” to public health, allowing the government to forcibly quarantine individuals.
168 labs around the world now have the capacity to diagnose the virus.
The death count — at 909 — surpasses that associated with Middle East respiratory syndrome, which has claimed the lives of 858 people.
Feb. 9 — The death toll of victims of the 2019-nCoV is now over 800, surpassing the death toll of the SARS epidemic in 2002 and 2003, which killed 773 people.
Feb. 8 — At a press conference, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus criticizes the levels of misinformation spreading around the virus, saying “we’re not just battling the virus; we’re also battling the trolls and conspiracy theorists that push misinformation and undermine the outbreak response." He says WHO is engaging with Facebook, Google, Tencent, Baidu, Twitter, TikTok, Weibo, Pinterest, and others to promote accurate information about 2019-nCoV.
Five British citizens test positive for the virus at a ski resort in eastern France.
Feb. 7 — The Asian Development Bank approves $2 million to support response capacity efforts against the 2019-nCoV outbreak in the Asia-Pacific region. The fund will supplement the bank’s technical assistance work in several Southeast Asian countries as well as China. The bank is working with WHO to identify areas for further possible financial assistance.
Confirmed cases in Japan jump to 86, as the number of infected rises to 61 inside a cruise ship docked in Yokohama. Patients include non-Japanese citizens.
Meanwhile, a local doctor in Wuhan, Li Wenliang, who tried to raise the alarm on the 2019-nCoV in December, dies. His death causes further angry sentiments in China, where he has been hailed a hero, with some calling for “freedom of speech” in the country where communication is tightly controlled by the government.
South Korea news daily JoongAng Ilbo reports of confirmed 2019-nCoV in North Korea, but this has yet to be confirmed by WHO. WHO representative to North Korea Edwin Ceniza Salvador tells Devex the U.N. agency has not received any report of coronavirus cases from North Korea’s public health ministry.
WHO announces that 28 countries in Africa now have the capacity to diagnose coronavirus — up from an initial two. By the end of the weekend, all other African nations should have the capacity to do so as well, according to the agency. This was later revised on Feb. 13 to 17 countries.
WHO tells reporters on a press call that there is a “severe global disruption” in the market for personal protective equipment, impacting access for front-line health workers. Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal and prices are 20 times higher, resulting in “depleted stockpiles and backlogs of four to six months.”
The United States pledges $100 million to the 2019-nCoV response.
Feb. 6 — Japan announces a $10 million contribution for WHO’s 2019-nCoV outbreak response fund to support countries with weak health systems as they prepare for the potential spread of the virus.
WHO unveils plans to host a global research and innovation forum from Feb. 11-12 in Geneva to bring together leading scientists, public health agencies, ministries of health, and research funders. The forum is aimed at setting the research agenda for 2019-nCoV.
Total cases in China now at 31,161, and 636 deaths. Outside mainland China, cases at 310, with 2 deaths.
Feb. 5 — Ten passengers from a cruise ship currently docked in Yokohama, Japan, test positive for 2019-nCoV, bringing the total cases in Japan to 35, now the highest among countries with confirmed cases outside mainland China. Global cases total over 28,000, with 565 deaths, and a majority of cases in China. China state media Xinhua also reports a newborn has been infected with the virus, but the route of transmission is still unknown.
Meanwhile in China, the central government has started penalizing officials found to be neglectful in performing their duties in relation to infection prevention and control of the outbreak, amid increasing anecdotal reports of government officials’ slow response to the early days of the outbreak.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announces $100 million in funding in support of 2019-nCoV response and preparedness efforts. WHO estimates resources required from February to April 2020 to amount to $675 million, as per its newly launched Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
Feb. 4 — Hong Kong reports its first death of a patient with 2019-nCoV. The 39-year-old man had travel history from Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter. This is the second death linked to the 2019-nCoV reported outside mainland China, after the Philippines. The total number of deaths from 2019-nCoV stands at 492, and confirmed cases globally over 24,000.
Belgium reports its first case of 2019-nCoV. The patient was one of the nine people repatriated from Wuhan over the weekend.
Feb. 3 — China launches a clinical trial of Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir, previously tested in patients with Ebola, against the 2019-nCoV, just as China’s Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan starts operations. The hospital was built in 10 days and is dedicated to treating 2019-nCoV patients.
In Hong Kong, hospital workers go on strike to demand that the government impose total border closure with mainland China, where cases total 20,438, bringing total confirmed cases globally to 20,625, and 426 deaths. Chinese officials call on the U.S. not to overreact and cause panic over 2019-nCoV.
The World Bank releases a statement saying it is reviewing financial and technical resources that can be mobilized to support countries affected by the 2019-nCoV outbreak. WHO meanwhile launches its own dashboard of 2019-nCoV confirmed cases in China and globally.
Feb. 2 — The first 2019-nCoV death outside China is reported in the Philippines. The patient was a 44-year-old Chinese male, and known companion of the 38-year-old woman who tested positive for 2019-nCoV on Jan. 30 and the first case in the Philippines. It also imposes travel ban for travelers coming from China, Hong Kong, and Macao, and a 14-day quarantine period for Philippine residents.
Overseas donations flood into China, while citizens scrutinize organizations receiving donations for the response. The local Red Cross in Hubei province faces criticisms over the slow delivery of donated medical supplies, as cases in Hubei, the epicenter, reach over 11,000. Confirmed cases now at 17,205, bringing total global cases to 17,386, with 362 deaths.
Feb. 1 — In China, confirmed cases now total 14,380 and the death toll rises above 300.
Jan. 31 — More countries are applying border control measures against foreign nationals with recent travel history from China, just as confirmed cases in China reach 11,791, with 259 deaths. The U.S. declares the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency domestically. The U.K., Russia, Sweden, and Spain also confirm their first 2019-nCoV cases.
Jan. 30 — WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declares the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, noting the potential spread of the virus to countries with weak health systems. The decision comes as more countries outside China report cases of infection, including the Philippines and India. Both confirm their first 2019-nCoV cases. Total confirmed cases in China reach 9,692, with 213 deaths. WHO recommends “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” as interim name for the disease.
Jan. 29 — Tedros decides to reconvene the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Thursday for advice on whether to declare the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The announcement comes just a week after Tedros initially refrained from declaring the outbreak an emergency. As 2019-nCoV cases grow in number and spread to more countries, the virus reaches the Middle East for the first time, with the United Arab Emirates reporting imported cases in a family of four. Finland also reports its first confirmed case.
Meanwhile, several countries prepare to repatriate people from Wuhan, and multiple airlines suspend or restrict flights to and from Chinese cities, just as confirmed cases in China continue to rise, now at 7,711. Globally, total confirmed cases are now at 7,816, with 170 deaths.
There are, however, some positive developments, as Australian scientists announce they have successfully grown 2019-nCoV in the laboratory, which can be helpful in improving diagnosis of the virus. Through his foundation, Alibaba Founder Jack Ma also donates 100 million Chinese yuan ($14.4 million) to help fund the development of a vaccine for the 2019-nCoV.
Jan. 28 — WHO’s Tedros meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing to discuss the latest developments in the 2019-nCoV outbreak. China agrees for WHO to send in international experts to help increase global understanding of the outbreak and guide response efforts.
Africa prepares for the potential spread of 2019-nCoV as the number of confirmed cases in China rises to 5,974 with 132 deaths. Confirmed cases globally now total over 6,000.
Jan. 27 — WHO chief Tedros travels to Beijing to meet with government and health experts on 2019-nCoV outbreak response. Hong Kong denies entry to visitors with travel history from Hubei Province, China, in the past 14 days. Authorities in Hubei suspend passport application and the provision of exit and entry permits in efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commits $10 million for the 2019-nCoV outbreak response in China, and screening and outbreak preparedness in Africa.
Cambodia, Germany and Sri Lanka each confirm their first 2019-nCoV cases.
In its latest update, China’s National Health Commission reports 1,771 new confirmed cases, more than double the cases on Jan. 26. This brings total confirmed cases in China to 4,515, with 976 severe cases and 106 deaths, and 4,580 total cases globally.
Jan. 26 — China reports 769 new confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV, significantly raising the total number of cases globally to 2,801. This includes 461 severe cases and 80 deaths.
China’s National Health Commission starts recommending use of HIV drugs as treatment against 2019-nCoV, as scientists globally start efforts to look for effective treatment and preventive therapy. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention also starts developing a vaccine against 2019-nCoV.
In a circular, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs tells charities and volunteer organizations not to send staff and volunteers to Hubei province amid the ongoing novel coronavirus epidemic.
Jan. 25 — The 2019-nCoV reaches more countries. Australia confirms the first case of 2019-nCoV in the continent, with health authorities announcing three more cases later in the day. France confirms three cases, the first in Europe. Malaysia also reports the first four cases, Canada reports its first case.
Several infected countries also confirm new cases, such as Thailand and Japan. In China meanwhile, Chinese government reports 688 new cases, bringing the total to 1,975. Cases with severe conditions rise to 324, and deaths to 56 in total.
Hong Kong meanwhile raises response to 2019-nCoV to the highest level, suspending all flights to and from Wuhan.
Jan. 24 — Japan and U.S. each confirm second 2019-nCoV cases, while Nepal confirms the first case of 2019-nCoV in the country. Total confirmed cases in China rise to 830, with 177 in severe condition and 25 deaths.
Later in the day, China’s National Health Commission reports 444 new confirmed cases and 16 new deaths in China, bringing total confirmed cases in the country to 1,287. This includes 237 cases in severe condition and a total of 41 deaths.
Jan. 23 — WHO’s director-general decides to not declare the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern yet, as per recommendations by the emergency committee.
The city of Wuhan shuts down public transportation, closing the airport and railway stations as of Thursday morning, in efforts to curb the spread of the 2019-nCoV. The suspension is in effect “until further notice.” Later in the day, another city is on lockdown: Ezhou. Beijing cancels plans for Chinese new year festivities and closes the Forbidden City. Another city, Huanggang, announces it will go into lockdown Friday. Singapore also confirms its first imported case, while Vietnam confirms two cases.
Jan. 22 — The emergency committee defers its decision on whether to advise WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to declare 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The meeting takes place amid a significant rise in confirmed cases of individuals infected with 2019-nCoV, at 580, according to China’s National Health Commission. The death toll has now risen to 17, with all cases reported from Hubei province.
Jan. 21 — WHO confirms human-to-human transmission of the virus. The total number of cases is now 222, including infections among health-care workers. Chinese authorities have also reported a fourth death. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has convened an emergency committee on Jan. 22 to decide whether this constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.
Jan. 20 — South Korea confirms its first case of 2019-nCoV. The patient did not report visiting markets in Wuhan.
Jan. 18-19 — Chinese authorities report a spike in 2019-nCoV cases, including first confirmed cases in Shenzhen (1 case) and Beijing (2 cases), bringing the total to 204 confirmed cases. They also report a third death linked to the new coronavirus.
Jan. 17 — Thailand confirms the second imported case of 2019-nCoV in the country, bringing the total exported cases from China to three.
Jan. 16 — Japan reports another imported case of 2019-nCoV. The Chinese national, a man in his 30s, also did not report visiting the Huanan seafood market.
Jan. 15 — China reports second death linked to 2019-nCoV. The patient was a 69-year-old male with severe myocarditis, abnormal renal function, and severe damage to multiple organ functions.
Jan. 13 — Thailand reports first imported case of 2019-nCoV. The patient, a 61-year-old woman from Wuhan, did not report visiting the Huanan seafood market.
Jan. 12 — China shares the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus, helping countries in testing and tracing any potentially infected people.
Jan. 9 — China reports first death linked to the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV. A 61-year-old male admitted to hospital in Wuhan with several underlying medical conditions. Apart from respiratory failure and severe pneumonia, the patient also suffered from abdominal tumors and chronic liver disease.
Jan. 7 — China identifies new coronavirus as cause of the outbreak. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause varying levels of disease, from common colds to severe fatal diseases. Usually found in animals, some can infect humans and transmit between humans. Both SARS and MERS are caused by a coronavirus.
Jan. 3 — China reports a total of 44 suspected patients with the mystery disease.
Jan. 1 — Officials close the Huanan seafood market, suspected to be the source of the mystery disease, as some of the patients presenting with the pneumonia-like illness were dealers or vendors at the market.
Dec. 31, 2019 — Chinese authorities inform WHO’s China office of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China, with unknown cause.