How the new coronavirus developed

A health officer (L) screens arriving passengers from China at Changi International airport in Singapore as authorities increased measure against coronavirus.

File: A health officer (L) screens arriving passengers from China at Changi International airport in Singapore as authorities increased measure against coronavirus.

AFP/Roslan Rahman

PARIS - A new coronavirus, a mysterious SARS-like disease, has spread around China and three other Asian countries since first emerging in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

Here is a timeline from when the alarm was raised to the suspension of trains and planes:

- Alarm raised -

The World Health Organization (WHO) is alerted on 31 December 2019, by the Chinese authorities of a string of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.

READ: Europe boosts China flight checks as killer virus spreads

Patients are quarantined and work begins on identifying the origin of the pneumonia.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies a seafood market suspected to be at the centre of the outbreak. It is closed on 1 January 2020.

- New coronavirus -

On 9 January, the WHO says that the outbreak in Wuhan was caused by a previously unknown type of coronavirus, which is a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like SARS.

- First death -

The Chinese health authorities say a first person has died of the virus on 11 January. They revise downwards the number of sick people to 41.

- Spreads beyond China -

On 13 January, the virus spreads beyond China's borders for the first time with a case emerging in Thailand, according to the WHO. The victim is a Chinese woman diagnosed with mild pneumonia who was returning from a trip to Wuhan.

READ: China virus toll rises to nine as pandemic fears grow

On 15 January, China's health commission says no human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed so far, but the possibility "cannot be excluded".

The next day a first case of the virus is confirmed in Japan in someone who had stayed in Wuhan in early January.

- US controls -

On 17 January, a second person, a 69-year-old man, dies in Wuhan, according to the authorities.

The same day, the CDC announces that it will begin screening passengers arriving from Wuhan at three airports: San Francisco, New York's JFK and Los Angeles.

- Human to human transmission confirmed -

On 20 January, a third death and more than 100 new cases are announced in China, sparking concerns ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday which begins 25 January and sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel nationwide.

The virus is present in Beijing in the north, Shanghai in the east and Shenzhen in the south. More than 200 cases have been recorded. The virus is also detected in South Korea in a Chinese person who has arrived by plane from Wuhan.

READ: China reports 17 new cases of mystery virus

China's President Xi Jinping says that the virus must be "resolutely contained", in his first public comments on the outbreak.

Human-to-human transmission is "affirmative", a top Chinese expert on infectious diseases Zhong Nanshan tells state broadcaster CCTV.

- Trains, planes suspended from Wuhan -

On 22 January European airports from London to Moscow step up checks on flights from Wuhan.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says he is postponing a decision on whether or not to declare a global health emergency.

READ: Experts warn over scale of China virus

"I have decided to ask the emergency committee to meet again tomorrow to continue their discussion," he said, referring to a group of international experts who met for several hours at the WHO in Geneva on Wednesday.

As Chinese authorities say 17 people have died and more than 500 have been infected, air and rail departures from Wuhan are suspended from 23 January.


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