Coronavirus Timeline: The Complete World-Wide History of COVID-19

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The trajectory of the spread of COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated since the first case was reported in Wuhan.

Here is a complete timeline of the major updates:

Table of Contents

November 2019

November 17th – The First Case

Confirmed Cases: 1
Total Deaths:
0
Hotspots: None
Key Developments: The potential first case of coronavirus emerges in the Hubei province.

The Potential First Case of Coronavirus Emerges.

A 55-year-old from Hubei province contracts what may be the first case of the COVID-19 outbreak. At the time, the case does not stand out – like most cases of COVID-19, the symptoms simply resemble a bad case of flu. Few saw this cases as those of a potential “patient zero” of one of the worst pandemics in recent history.

December 2019

December 31st – The First Warning

Confirmed Cases: 7
Total Deaths:
0
Hotspots: Wuhan, China
Key Developments: Dr Li Wenliang of Wuhan Central Hospital warns colleagues of a rash of new coronavirus cases.

The First Warning

After noticing that a number of patients seemed to be suffering from a variant of SARS coronavirus, Dr Li Wenliang, an opthalmologist working at Wuhan Central Hospital, recalling the outbreak of 2003, posts a warning to a WeChat group of fellow doctors, warning them to take precautions against infection.

Little does he know that, a few days thereafter, he will be admonished by the Wuhan Public Security Bureau for “making false comments on the internet” and forced to sign a document disavowing his warning as mere rumors.

January 2020

January 11th – The First Death

Confirmed Cases: 41
Total Deaths:
1
Hotspots: Wuhan, China
Key Developments: Coronavirus claims its first victim in China.

The First Coronavrius Death Occurs

A 61-year-old man, known to have been a regular customer at the market where the virus was first identified, is reported by the Xinhua news agency to have passed away from the virus. He is but the first of many victims.

The patient is known to have previously suffered from a number of other chronic health issues, including liver disease and abdominal tumors. This is one of the first confirmations that the elderly and sickly are especially vulnerable.

January 13th – The First Case Outside China

Confirmed Cases: 41
Total Deaths:
1
Hotspots: Wuhan, China
Key Developments: WHO identifies the first coronavirus case outside of China.

First Case Outside China

The World Health Organization makes a sobering discovery – the disease has breached China’s borders. A 61-year-old woman in Thailand is identified as the first case of COVID-19 outside of China.

The woman, originally from Wuhan and a regular customer at a local market, arrived in the country on 8 January along with several family members. For the previous three days, she had been suffering from flu-like symptoms. Her illness is detected by thermal surveillance at Suvarnabhumi Airport, and she is admitted to hospital the same day.

The implications are clear – despite local and international efforts, it is simply too late to keep the disease confined to a single country. The problem, it’s now obvious, is an international one – and it’s only going to go more global from here.

January 20th – The First Case in the US

Confirmed Cases: About 300
Total Deaths:
6
Hotspots: Wuhan, China
Key Developments: The first case of Coronavirus emerges in the United States.

First Case Emerges In US

A 35-year-old man from Washington State arrives home on 15 January from a trip to Wuhan, China. At the time, he has no discernible symptoms; but only five days later, he will be diagnosed with COVID-19, making him the first of what would, over the next few months, be thousands of cases in the US.

Health officials are quick to reassure the public that the patient is being kept isolated and is recovering well, and that mandatory passenger screeners are being implemented at major US airports. However, it is quite clear that the virus is now very much a US problem too.

January 23th – Wuhan Goes Into Lockdown

Confirmed Cases: 854
Total Deaths:
17
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: The city of Wuhan is placed under quarantine.

Wuhan Locked Down

A picture of people lining up outside a drugstore in Wuhan, China, many of them wearing protective face masks.
People lining up to buy face masks at a drugstore in Wuhan, where a city-wide lockdown was implemented on January 23rd | Source: China News Service via Wikimedia Commons

In an effort to stop the rampant spread of the disease, Chinese authorities take a drastic step: the entire city of Wuhan, and all its 11 million inhabitants, are placed under lockdown. Thought to be where the disease first emerged, Wuhan now finds itself cut off from the rest of China, with any transportation into, out of, or within the city placed on hold.

Residents, however, are skeptical. The disease has already escaped the borders of China, with new cases emerging in Japan, Thailand, South Korea, and even the United States. These drastic measures, it’ll soon become clear, are too little, too late.

January 30th – WHO Declares A Global Emergency

Confirmed Cases: 7,921
Total Deaths:
170
Hotspots: Wuhan, China
Key Developments: World Health Organisation declares COVID-19 to be a global health emergency.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 7,804
  2. Thailand – 14
  3. Japan – 12
  4. Hong Kong – 10
  5. Singapore – 10
  6. Taiwan – 9
  7. Australia – 9
  8. Malaysia – 8
  9. Macau – 7
  10. South Korea – 6

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 170

WHO Declares Global Emergency

The World Health Organisation declares COVID-19 to be a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC). This decision was made only a week after the same organization declined to apply this same label to the disease.

WHO cites the rapid growth of the disease, and its potential to reach countries as yet unprepared for it, as the reason for the declaration. Their quick turnaround on the matter reflects the unexpectedly rapid rate of the disease’s global growth.

January 31st – Dr Li Wenliang Blows the Whistle

Confirmed Cases: 9,953
Total Deaths:
213
Hotspots: Wuhan, China
Key Developments: Dr Li Wenliang tells the world of his early encounter with the disease and of the government’s attempts to censor him.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 9,692
  2. Thailand – 14
  3. Japan – 14
  4. Singapore – 13
  5. Hong Kong – 12
  6. Taiwan – 9
  7. Australia – 9
  8. Malaysia – 8
  9. Macau – 7
  10. South Korea – 6

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 213

Dr Li Wenliang Blows The Whistle

A month has passed since Dr Li Wenliang first warned his colleagues of a potential new outbreak of SARS coronavirus among patients at Wuhan Central Hospital. Of course, it has become clear by now that his fears were warranted; and after he publishes his experiences with authorities, along with the document he was forced to sign, on the social media platform Weibo, the post quickly goes viral.

Citizens across China are incensed that the government neglected a prime opportunity to contain the outbreak early, and Dr Li becomes something of an national hero.

February 2020

February 1st – Spain Confirms First Case

Confirmed Cases: 14,553
Total Deaths:
259
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Spain confirms its first case of the coronavirus.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 11,860
  2. Japan – 20
  3. Thailand – 19
  4. Singapore – 18
  5. Hong Kong – 13
  6. South Korea – 12
  7. Australia – 12
  8. Taiwan – 10
  9. Malaysia – 8
  10. United States – 7

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 259

Spain Confirms First Case

A German tourist in La Gomera, one of Spain’s remote Canary Islands, is confirmed by the nation’s health ministry to have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The man is one of a group of five other tourists taken in for testing after it was discovered they may have come into contact with the virus back in Germany. The case marks the first instance of the disease in Spain.

Tragically, although this first case is discovered on the country’s remote Canary Islands, it will not be long until the disease reaches the mainland, where it will spread rapidly, affecting tens of thousands within the span of a few weeks.

February 2nd – First Death Outside China

Confirmed Cases: 14,677
Total Deaths:
305
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: COVID-19 claims its first victim outside of China.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 14,497
  2. Japan – 20
  3. Thailand – 19
  4. Singapore – 18
  5. South Korea – 15
  6. Hong Kong – 14
  7. Australia – 12
  8. Germany – 10
  9. Taiwan – 10
  10. Malaysia – 8

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 304
  2. Philippines – 1

First Death Outside China

A picture of downtown Manila taken from the World Trade Exchange Tower in 2015.
The Philippine capital of Manila is the site of what is believed to be the first COVID-19-related death outside of China | Source: Patrick Roque via Wikimedia Commons

A 44-year-old Chinese man dies at a hospital in Manila, Philippines. The case marks the first COVID-19-related death outside of China.

The man arrived in the country on 21 January, having traveled there from Wuhan, where he is believed to have originally contracted the disease. The incident serves as a sobering reminder that the disease is now global, and that other nations should prepare for the worst.

February 4th – Diamond Princess Quarantined

Confirmed Cases: 23,874
Total Deaths:
492
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Thousands of passengers are quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 23,658
  2. Thailand – 25
  3. Singapore – 24
  4. Japan – 23
  5. Hong Kong – 17
  6. South Korea – 16
  7. Australia – 13
  8. Germany – 12
  9. Taiwan – 11
  10. United States – 11

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 490
  2. Hong Kong – 1
  3. Philippines – 1

Japan Quarantines the Diamond Princess

A picture of the Diamond Princess cruiser ship moored in the docks.
The Diamond Princess cruiser, which was quarantined in Japan on February 4th due to an outbreak of COVID-19 on board | Source: NEO-NEED via Wikimedia Commons

3,700 passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess, a British-registered cruise ship, quite suddenly find themselves facing an extended vacation when they are quarantined by the Japanese government.

The cruise ship was stopped in the port city of Yokohama, where tests carried out by the Japanese Ministry of Health confirmed that ten of the ship’s passengers were suffering from COVID-19.

The ten passengers are taken ashore for treatment, while the rest are kept aboard the ship, which is kept quarantined in the harbor, in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Despite these efforts, the infection on board would spread rapidly. By the time all passengers and crew had departed, the total number of cases among them would amount to 712, 14 of which would prove fatal.

February 7th – Dr Li Wenliang Dies

Confirmed Cases: 31,535
Total Deaths:
638
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Dr Li Wenliang, one of the first to identify the virus, passes away from the very same disease he helped discover.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 31,210
  2. Japan – 86
  3. Singapore – 33
  4. Hong Kong – 25
  5. Thailand – 25
  6. South Korea – 24
  7. Taiwan – 16
  8. Malaysia – 15
  9. Australia – 15
  10. Germany – 13

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 636
  2. Hong Kong – 1
  3. Philippines – 1

Dr Li Wenliang Dies

Just over a month after first warning his colleagues of a potential new Coronavirus outbreak, Dr Li Wenliang passes away from that very same disease. His death reignites both national and international ire over what many see as a mishandling of the disaster by the Chinese government.

February 10th – Food Prices Spike in China

Confirmed Cases: 40,660
Total Deaths:
910
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Food prices in China spike drastically.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 40,199
  2. Japan – 161
  3. Singapore – 45
  4. Hong Kong – 42
  5. Thailand – 32
  6. South Korea – 27
  7. Taiwan – 18
  8. Malaysia – 18
  9. Australia – 15
  10. Vietnam – 14

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 908
  2. Hong Kong – 1
  3. Philippines – 1

China Hit By Food Price Spikes

Food prices in China spike by over 20 percent. Particularly affected items include pork, which experiences an one-month price rise of 8.5 percent. Experts point to the disruptive effects of the outbreak and subsequent lockdowns on supply chains, though the recent spike in demand over the Lunar New Year is also cited as an exacerbating factor.

This upturn in the price of essential items serves as a grim early reminder of the drastic economic effects of a global pandemic, and how it will impact the life of the ordinary consumer.

February 11th – The Novel Coronavirus Gets A Name

Confirmed Cases: 43,148
Total Deaths:
1,018
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: The World Health Organisation officially names the novel coronavirus ‘COVID-19’.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 42,670
  2. Japan – 163
  3. Hong Kong – 49
  4. Singapore – 47
  5. Thailand – 33
  6. South Korea – 28
  7. Taiwan – 18
  8. Malaysia – 18
  9. Germany – 16
  10. Vietnam – 15

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 1,016
  2. Hong Kong – 1
  3. Philippines – 1

Virus Is Officially Named ‘COVID-19’

The World Health Organization announces that the disease, which had previously been referred to as the ‘2019 novel Coronavirus’, will be given the official name of ‘COVID-19’.

The name, WHO explains, is an amalgamation of abbreviations for the words ‘corona’, ‘virus’ and ‘disease’, while ‘19’ represents 2019, the year that the disease was discovered. The name was specifically chosen to avoid reference to any particular geographical location or group of people in order to prevent stigmatization.

February 12th – Vaccine Completion Timeline Announced

Confirmed Cases: 45,171
Total Deaths: 1,115
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: World Health Organization estimates that a coronavirus vaccine could be ready in about 18 months.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 44,653
  2. Japan – 203
  3. Hong Kong – 49
  4. Singapore – 47
  5. Thailand – 33
  6. South Korea – 28
  7. Taiwan – 18
  8. Malaysia – 18
  9. Germany – 16
  10. Vietnam – 15

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 1,113
  2. Hong Kong – 1
  3. Philippines – 1

WHO Estimates 18 Months For Vaccine Completion

Speaking in Geneva, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu states that a vaccine for the Coronavirus could be ready in approximately 18 months.

While this announcement does offer some long-term hope, it also serves to underline how, even with modern resources and global efforts, vaccines for newly discovered diseases can take a considerable amount of time to complete – time during which great care must be taken to prevent the disease spreading out of control.

February 14th – First Death in Europe

Confirmed Cases: 66,899
Total Deaths:
1,524
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Health officials confirm the first coronavirus-related death in Europe.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 66,291
  2. Japan – 259
  3. Singapore – 67
  4. Hong Kong – 56
  5. Thailand – 33
  6. South Korea – 28
  7. Malaysia – 19
  8. Taiwan – 18
  9. Germany – 16
  10. Vietnam – 16

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 1,520
  2. Japan – 1
  3. Hong Kong – 1
  4. Philippines – 1
  5. France – 1

First Death In Europe

A picture of the outside of Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in Paris.
Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital in Paris, where COVID-19 claimed its first victim in Europe on February 14th | Source: Henry Salomé via Wikimedia Commons

Agnès Buzyn, Health Minister of France, solemnly announces that an 80-year-old Chinese tourist has passed away from COVID-19 at a hospital in Paris.

The man, originally from Hubei Province, where the outbreak is believed to have begun, arrived in the country on 16 January. After his illness was detected, he was placed in quarantine at Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital. The man’s condition worsened quickly, and he passed away on 14 February.

The man’s death marks the first coronavirus-related death in Europe. Sadly, it would be far from the last.

February 19th – First Death in the Middle East

Confirmed Cases: 75,309
Total Deaths:
2,014
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Officials report the first coronavirus-related deaths in the Middle East.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 74,192
  2. Japan – 84
  3. Singapore – 84
  4. Hong Kong – 65
  5. South Korea – 51
  6. Thailand – 35
  7. Taiwan – 23
  8. Malaysia – 22
  9. Germany – 16
  10. Vietnam – 16

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 2,006
  2. Hong Kong – 2
  3. Iran – 2
  4. Japan – 1
  5. Taiwan – 1
  6. Philippines -1
  7. France – 1

Iran Reports First Middle East Deaths

Officials from Iran’s ministry of health confirm that two citizens have passed away from Coronavirus-related complications in the city of Qom. This marks the first Coronavirus deaths in the Middle East.

Although both patients were reportedly elderly, making them especially susceptible to the disease, the news serves as a grim reminder of the effects that a widespread outbreak of a potentially fatal illness could potentially have on a politically volatile region like the Middle East.

February 21st – South Korean ‘Cult’ Linked to Outbreak

Confirmed Cases: 77,277
Total Deaths:
2,251
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: A secretive church in South Korea is linked to the country’s recent outbreak of COVID-19.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 75,897
  2. South Korea – 205
  3. Japan – 108
  4. Singapore – 86
  5. Hong Kong – 69
  6. Thailand – 35
  7. United States – 35
  8. Taiwan – 26
  9. Malaysia – 22
  10. Italy – 21

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 2,236
  2. Iran – 4
  3. South Korea – 2
  4. Hong Kong – 2
  5. Japan – 1
  6. Taiwan – 1
  7. Philippines – 1
  8. Italy – 1
  9. France – 1

South Korean ‘Cult’ Linked To National Outbreak

By now, South Korea has accumulated the most COVID-19 cases outside of China; and health officials confirm that more than half are associated with the Shincheonji Church of Jesus.

Former members of the secretive and controversial Christian sect tell of how services had members tightly clustered together on the floor. Members are forbidden to wear masks or other face coverings, and illness is not considered a sufficient reason to miss sermons.

Officials are unsure how the virus first reached the church; but the sect is known to have international operations outside of South Korea, including in Wuhan, where the virus originated.

February 23rd – Italy Tightens Quarantine

Confirmed Cases: 78,997
Total Deaths:
2,470
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Italian authorities implement new quarantine rules in an effort to contain the local outbreak.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 76,942
  2. South Korea – 602
  3. Italy – 157
  4. Japan – 146
  5. Singapore – 89
  6. Hong Kong – 74
  7. Iran – 43
  8. Thailand – 35
  9. United States – 35
  10. Taiwan – 28

Top countries with most deaths

  1. China – 2,444
  2. Iran – 8
  3. South Korea – 6
  4. Italy – 3
  5. Hong Kong – 2
  6. Japan – 1
  7. Taiwan – 1
  8. Philippines – 1
  9. France – 1

Italy Implements Harsher Quarantine Rules

In the wake of a rapidly growing local outbreak – one totaling over 150 cases and three deaths – Italian authorities implement stringent new rules in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. Eleven towns in the Lombardy region, where the virus is concentrated, are placed under lockdown.

Tragically, in spite of these new measures, the Coronavirus epidemic in Italy will only continue to grow from here, accumulating in tens of thousands of cases, thousands of which will prove fatal.

February 24th – The US Requests $2.5 Billion

Confirmed Cases: 79,774
Total Deaths:
2,692
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Trump administration requests a total of $2.5 billion to fund Coronavirus response.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 77,345
  2. South Korea – 833
  3. Italy – 229
  4. Japan – 159
  5. Singapore – 90
  6. Hong Kong – 81
  7. Iran – 61
  8. United States – 53
  9. Thailand – 35
  10. Taiwan – 30

Top countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,593
  2. Iran – 12
  3. South Korea – 8
  4. Italy – 7
  5. Hong Kong – 2
  6. Japan – 1
  7. Taiwan – 1
  8. Philippines – 1
  9. France – 1

Trump Administration Requests $2.5 Billion Fund

With the disease having breached US borders, the Trump administration requests that a total of $2.5 billion be allocated to fund government efforts to fight the encroaching Coronavirus. This amount would, over the next few weeks, grow to $7.8 billion, being approved on 5 March.

This request was the source of some controversy; but more importantly, coming a mere month after the first case of the disease in the US, it serves as a reflection of how rapidly the disease has grown from a threat to an emergency.

February 25th – COVID-19 Hits South America

Confirmed Cases: 80,427
Total Deaths:
2,712
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: A Brazilian man becomes the first coronavirus patient in Latin America.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 77,666
  2. South Korea – 977
  3. Italy – 323
  4. Japan – 161
  5. Iran – 95
  6. Singapore – 91
  7. Hong Kong – 85
  8. United States – 57
  9. Thailand – 37
  10. Taiwan – 31

Top countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,664
  2. Iran – 16
  3. South Korea – 11
  4. Italy – 11
  5. Hong Kong – 2
  6. Japan – 1
  7. Taiwan – 1
  8. Philippines – 1
  9. France – 1

Brazil Confirms First Case In Latin America

Brazilian officials confirm that a 61-year-old man from São Paulo has tested positive for the Coronavirus. This marks the first case of the disease in all of Latin America.

The man had recently returned from a business trip to Lombardy in Italy, a country which had recently seen an abrupt spike in Coronavirus cases. The case has set off a frantic search by authorities for other passengers on the patient’s flight; and moreover, it’s another sobering reminder that, despite the best efforts of governments worldwide, the virus truly has begun to extend itself to the four corners of the Earth.

February 26th – A Day of Firsts

Confirmed Cases: 81,406
Total Deaths:
2,771
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Multiple countries across Europe announce their first Coronavirus cases.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 78,073
  2. South Korea – 1,261
  3. Italy – 470
  4. Japan – 172
  5. Iran – 139
  6. Singapore – 93
  7. Hong Kong – 89
  8. United States – 60
  9. Thailand – 40
  10. Taiwan – 33

Top countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,715
  2. Iran – 19
  3. South Korea – 12
  4. Italy – 12
  5. Japan – 3
  6. Hong Kong – 2
  7. France – 2
  8. Taiwan – 1
  9. Philippines – 1

Multiple Countries Announce First Cases

On the same day, multiple countries in and around the European region – including Greece, Georgia, Romania, Pakistan and Norway – announce that they are experiencing their first cases of the Coronavirus. In all cases, the patients had either recently returned from affected countries, or had recent contact with individuals from those countries.

These new cases serve as further proof that, despite international efforts, the disease has established itself in Europe, and will continue to spread. Over the course of the next month, case numbers in many of these countries will grow into the thousands.

February 27th – Dow Jones Crashes

Confirmed Cases: 82,794
Total Deaths:
2,817
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: The Dow Jones stock index experiences its largest ever one-day drop.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 78,514
  2. South Korea – 1,766
  3. Italy – 655
  4. Iran – 245
  5. Japan – 207
  6. Singapore – 96
  7. Hong Kong – 92
  8. United States – 60
  9. Germany – 48
  10. Kuwait – 43

Top countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,747
  2. Iran – 26
  3. Italy – 17
  4. South Korea – 13
  5. Japan – 4
  6. Hong Kong – 2
  7. France – 2
  8. Taiwan – 1
  9. Philippines – 1

Dow Jones Hits Largest One-Day Drop

The Dow Jones stock index drops 1,191 points, or 4.4 percent – the largest one-day point drop in its history thus far.

The dramatic drop is rooted in international anxieties about the potential destabilizing effects of the Coronavirus. It serves as an early forewarning of the drastic impact that the disease can, and most likely will, have on both local and international economies.

February 28th – COVID-19 Hits Sub-Saharan Africa

Confirmed Cases: 84,184
Total Deaths:
2,876
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: A confirmed Coronavirus case in Nigeria becomes the first instance of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 78,832
  2. South Korea – 2,337
  3. Italy – 889
  4. Iran – 388
  5. Japan – 233
  6. Singapore – 96
  7. Hong Kong – 93
  8. United States – 63
  9. Germany – 60
  10. France – 57

Top countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,788
  2. Iran – 34
  3. Italy – 21
  4. South Korea – 16
  5. Japan – 5
  6. Hong Kong – 2
  7. France – 2
  8. Taiwan – 1
  9. Philippines – 1

Sub-Saharan Africa Reports First Case

Authorities in Nigeria confirm that an Italian man in Lagos has tested positive for the Coronavirus. The case is the first of its kind in all of sub-Saharan Africa. The man, a contractor, arrived in the country from Milan three days earlier, and did not show any signs of the disease during his screening at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

Authorities assert that the man is stable and being treated at a Lagos hospital. Nonetheless, public health officials highlight that the disease’s effects could be devastating in Africa, where healthcare resources are far more limited than in much of the rest of the world.

February 29th – The First US Death

Confirmed Cases: 86,602
Total Deaths:
2,977
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: The USA confirms its first Coronavirus-related death.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 79,826
  2. South Korea – 3,150
  3. Italy – 1,128
  4. Iran – 593
  5. Japan – 241
  6. Singapore – 102
  7. France – 100
  8. Hong Kong – 93
  9. Germany – 79
  10. United States – 68

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,870
  2. Iran – 43
  3. Italy – 29
  4. South Korea – 17
  5. Japan – 5
  6. Hong Kong – 2
  7. France – 2
  8. Taiwan – 1
  9. Philippines – 1
  10. United States – 1

USA Confirms First Death

Officials from the Washington State Department of Health confirm that the US has just experienced its first death from COVID-19. The patient, who passed away in Washington State’s King County, was a 50-year-old man who, like many previous victims of the disease, is known to have suffered from a number of other health complications prior to contracting the virus.

Washington State governor Jay Inslee declares a state of emergency that same day. The man’s death makes it clear that the virus’s deadly effects are truly becoming a global issue.

March 2020

March 2nd – Middle East Cases on the Rise

Confirmed Cases: 90,308
Total Deaths:
3,087
Hotspots: China
Key Developments: Both Saudi Arabia and Jordan confirm their first Coronavirus cases.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,026
  2. South Korea – 4,335
  3. Italy – 2,036
  4. Iran – 1,501
  5. Japan – 274
  6. France – 191
  7. Germany – 165
  8. Spain – 120
  9. Singapore – 108
  10. Hong Kong – 100

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,912
  2. Iran – 66
  3. Italy – 52
  4. South Korea – 28
  5. Japan – 6
  6. United States – 6
  7. France – 3
  8. Hong Kong – 2
  9. Taiwan – 1
  10. Philippines – 1

First Cases In Saudi Arabia & Jordan

On the same day, health ministry officials from both Jordan and Saudi Arabia confirm that both countries have seen their first case of Coronavirus. In both cases, the patients are locals who had recently returned from affected countries, and who are now being kept in quarantine.

The grim news seemingly confirms that the disease has begun to spread its way across the Middle East – a region which, thanks to its political and economic instabilities, is especially vulnerable to a pandemic.

March 3rd – The US Expands Testing

Confirmed Cases: 92,880
Total Deaths: 3,168
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Centers For Disease Control lifts existing restrictions on who can be tested for the virus.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,152
  2. South Korea – 5,186
  3. Italy – 2,502
  4. Iran – 2,336
  5. Japan – 293
  6. France – 212
  7. Germany – 196
  8. Spain – 165
  9. United States – 118
  10. Singapore – 110

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 2,945
  2. Italy – 79
  3. Iran – 77
  4. South Korea – 34
  5. United States – 9
  6. Japan – 6
  7. France – 4
  8. Hong Kong – 2
  9. Taiwan – 1
  10. Philippines – 1

CDC Lifts Testing Restrictions

US Vice President Mike Pence announces at a media briefing that the Centers For Disease Control has lifted earlier restrictions as to who can receive the Coronavirus test. Under the new guidelines, he said, “any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders”, regardless of how strong their symptoms may be.

The announcement comes in the wake of a great deal of controversy centering on the CDC’s Coronavirus testing kits, including a rollout of botched kits that delayed matters for several weeks. The entire affair, all in all, raises questions as to whether even the world’s most prosperous and modernized nations can genuinely consider themselves prepared for an outbreak.

March 7th – Iranian Lawmaker Dies

Confirmed Cases: 105,684
Total Deaths:
3,570
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Iranian lawmaker Fatemeh Rahbar succumbs to the Coronavirus.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,652
  2. South Korea – 7,041
  3. Italy – 5,883
  4. Iran – 5,823
  5. France – 949
  6. Germany – 800
  7. Spain – 503
  8. Japan – 461
  9. United States – 410
  10. Switzerland – 268

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,070
  2. Italy – 233
  3. Iran – 145
  4. South Korea – 48
  5. United States – 19
  6. France – 16
  7. Spain – 10
  8. Japan – 6
  9. Iraq – 4
  10. Hong Kong – 2

Iranian Lawmaker Dies

A picture of Iranian lawmaker Fatemeh Rahbar.
Iranian lawmaker Fatemeh Rahbar, who passed away from COVID-19-related complications on March 7th | Source: Nastaran Dadjou via Wikimedia Commons

Iranian lawmaker Fatemeh Rahbar, who had recently been elected to parliament, passes away from the Coronavirus. She is the seventh political figure in the country to do so.

Iran is the epicenter of the disease in the Middle East; and Rahbar’s death serves as a demonstration that the virus, if allowed to spread out of control, is apt to affect people at all levels of society, including those in charge of maintaining the country’s stability and law. Already, other lawmakers – including Italy’s Nicola Zingaretti – are affected by the disease; and more prominent cases will emerge in the coming weeks.

March 8th – Italian Quarantine Tightened

Confirmed Cases: 109,843
Total Deaths:
3,805
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Italy implements a drastic new quarantine that restricts the movement of 16 million citizens.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,703
  2. Italy – 7,375
  3. South Korea – 7,313
  4. Iran – 6,566
  5. France – 1,126
  6. Germany – 1,040
  7. Spain – 674
  8. United States – 534
  9. Japan – 502
  10. Switzerland – 337

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,098
  2. Italy – 366
  3. Iran – 194
  4. South Korea – 50
  5. United States – 21
  6. France – 19
  7. Spain – 17
  8. Japan – 7
  9. Iraq – 6
  10. Hong Kong – 3

16 Million Italians Quarantined

Italy, the country with, thus far, the highest number of infections and deaths outside China, announces a drastic new quarantine in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease. 

Under the new quarantine, citizens in designated areas of the country will require special permits to travel to other parts of the country. In addition, multiple establishments and businesses in the region – including schools, museums, gyms and universities – will be made to close.

The quarantine extends across 14 provinces and includes Milan and Venice, and will affect around 16 million Italian citizens. It is set to last until at least 3 April.

These harsh but necessary restrictions imposed upon ordinary Italians serves as one of the clearest demonstrations thus far of the dramatic effect that the outbreak has, and will continue to have, on the everyday lives of people across the globe.

March 9th – Italian Quarantine Goes Country-Wide

Confirmed Cases: 114,285
Total Deaths:
4,009
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Italy’s quarantine measures extended across the country.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,739
  2. Italy – 9,172
  3. South Korea – 7,478
  4. Iran – 7,161
  5. France – 1,412
  6. Spain – 1,231
  7. Germany – 1,224
  8. United States – 624
  9. Japan – 530
  10. Switzerland – 374

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,120
  2. Italy – 463
  3. Iran – 237
  4. South Korea – 53
  5. France – 30
  6. Spain – 30
  7. United States – 26
  8. Japan – 9
  9. Iraq – 7
  10. United Kingdom – 5

Italian Quarantine Extended Nationwide

Only a day after implementing a drastic new quarantine across a significant portion of the country, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announces that quarantine measures are being extended across the entire country

Under these new restrictions, which will affect 60 million Italian citizens, any travel other than for business or emergencies will be banned. Public gatherings – including weddings, funerals and sports events – will also be forbidden, and schools and universities will be kept closed until 3 April.

The sudden extension of the quarantine serves as a sombre reflection of how quickly, and unexpectedly, the outbreak can spread across an entire country.

March 11th – A Pandemic Declared

Confirmed Cases: 126,054
Total Deaths:
4,616
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: The World Health Organisation officially declares COVID-19 to be a pandemic; actor Tom Hanks diagnosed with COVID-19.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,790
  2. Italy – 12,462
  3. Iran – 9,000
  4. South Korea – 7,755
  5. France – 2,281
  6. Spain – 2,277
  7. Germany – 1,908
  8. United States – 1,301
  9. Switzerland – 652
  10. Japan – 639

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,158
  2. Italy – 827
  3. Iran – 354
  4. South Korea – 60
  5. Spain – 55
  6. France – 48
  7. United States – 38
  8. Japan – 15
  9. United Kingdom – 8 
  10. Iraq – 7

WHO Officially Declares A Pandemic

A picture of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, who announced on March 11th that COVID-19 had been declared a pandemic | Source: MONUSCO Photos via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking at a media briefing in Geneva, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, remarks that, over the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases outside China had increased 13-fold. In light of this, he says, WHO is now treating the disease as a pandemic.

He takes care to underline how this does not necessarily change WHO’s assessment of the threat, praising the efforts of various governments around the world, and emphasizing how they have demonstrated that, despite being a pandemic, the outbreak can be controlled.

Nevertheless, this upgraded classification serves to further underline the severity of the outbreak, and the great international effort that will be necessary to suppress it.

Actor Tom Hanks Diagnosed

In an Instagram post, actor Tom Hanks confirms that he and his wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for the Coronavirus.

At the time, the couple were in Queensland, Australia for the shooting of a new biopic about Elvis Presley, in which Hanks portrays Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’ manager; however, authorities believe that they contracted the disease outside the country. The couple are subsequently admitted to Gold Coast University Hospital. Their case is yet another instance of the disease infiltrating even the most protected levels of modern society.

March 12th – Dow Jones Second Record Drop

Confirmed Cases: 134,527
Total Deaths:
4,970
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Dow Jones experiences yet another record drop as stock markets plummet.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,796
  2. Italy – 15,113
  3. Iran – 10,075
  4. South Korea – 7,869
  5. Spain – 3,146
  6. France – 2,876
  7. Germany – 2,745
  8. United States – 1,686
  9. Switzerland – 868
  10. Norway – 800

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,169
  2. Italy – 1,016
  3. Iran – 429
  4. Spain – 86
  5. South Korea – 66
  6. France – 61
  7. United States – 40
  8. Japan – 19
  9. United Kingdom – 10
  10. Iraq – 8

Stock Markets Hit New Record Low

The Dow Jones stock index experiences another dramatic plummet, falling a total of 10 percent, its largest single-day percentage drop since the infamous Black Monday crash of 1987. In reference to this, 12 March 2020 is named “Black Thursday”.

Just one of many sudden stock market crashes that have occurred since COVID-19’s global emergence, Black Thursday 2020 serves a new symbol of the looming, likely devastating impact of the disease on the international economy.

March 13th – US Declares a National Emergency

Confirmed Cases: 145,360
Total Deaths:
5,416
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: President Trump declares a national emergency in the US.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,817
  2. Italy – 17,660
  3. Iran – 11,364
  4. South Korea – 7,979
  5. Spain – 5,232
  6. Germany – 3,675
  7. France – 3,661
  8. United States – 2,269
  9. Switzerland – 1,139
  10. Norway – 996

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,177
  2. Italy – 1,266
  3. Iran – 514
  4. Spain – 133
  5. France – 79
  6. South Korea – 71
  7. United States – 48
  8. Japan – 19
  9. Switzerland – 11
  10. United Kingdom – 11

Trump Declares National Emergency

United States President Donald Trump declares a national emergency in the United States. Trump allocates $50 billion in federal funding to fight the outbreak, as well as promising the establishment of a screening website and drive-by tests.

Arguments are made that Trump’s announcement is an effort to counter criticism for earlier administrative failures, such as a national shortage of testing kits. Regardless of his intentions, though, this drastic step – especially in a country as wary of direct government intervention as the United States – demonstrates the growing necessity of international governmental efforts if the disease is to be contained.

March 15th – CDC Limits Gathering Size

Confirmed Cases: 169,33
Total Deaths:
6,500
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Centers For Disease Control recommends against any gathering of more than 50.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,849
  2. Italy – 24,747
  3. Iran – 13,938
  4. South Korea – 8,162
  5. Spain – 7,843
  6. Germany – 5,813
  7. France – 5,423
  8. United States – 3,666
  9. Switzerland – 2,217
  10. United Kingdom – 1,391

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,199
  2. Italy – 1,809
  3. Iran – 724
  4. Spain – 292
  5. France – 127
  6. South Korea – 75
  7. United States – 68
  8. United Kingdom – 35
  9. Japan – 24
  10. Netherlands – 20

CDC Advises Against Large Gatherings

The Centers For Disease Control recommends that, in order to counter the spread of the disease across the United States, large gatherings should be avoided as much as possible, and any event consisting of 50 or more people taking place over the next eight weeks should be cancelled entirely.

Given how – especially in populous countries like the United States – gatherings of more than 50 people generally take place on a daily basis, the CDC’s recommendation serves as yet another reminder of the drastic impact that efforts against the disease’s spread will continue to have on daily life.

March 16th – Idris Elba Tests Positive

Confirmed Cases: 182,395
Total Deaths:
7,144
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Actor Idris Elba confirms that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,880
  2. Italy – 27,980
  3. Iran – 14,991
  4. Spain – 9,942
  5. South Korea – 8,236
  6. Germany – 7,272
  7. France – 6,633
  8. United States – 4,652
  9. Switzerland – 2,353
  10. United Kingdom – 1,543

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,213
  2. Italy – 2,158
  3. Iran – 853
  4. Spain – 342
  5. France – 148
  6. United States – 86
  7. South Korea – 75
  8. United Kingdom – 55
  9. Japan – 27
  10. Netherlands – 24

Idris Elba Confirms Diagnosis

A picture of British actor Idris Elba at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2018.
Actor Idris Elba, who announced his positive diagnosis for COVID-19 on March 16th | Source: Harald Krichel via Wikimedia Commons

British actor Idris Elba confirms in a Tweet that he has tested positive for COVID-19. His wife, Sabrina, will later also test positive.

Elba states that, though he is not currently displaying any symptoms, he had himself tested immediately after learning that another individual who he had contact with had been diagnosed with the disease. He tells his followers that he will be self-isolating, urging them to consider doing the same.

Elba, who gained prominence through his starring role in the BBC series Luther, is one of the UK’s most noted current actors, having appeared in prominent roles in such films as Thor and Pacific Rim. His diagnosis once again proves the far-reaching effects of the outbreak.

March 17th – France Enters Lockdown

Confirmed Cases: 198,178
Total Deaths:
7,965
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: France begins a near-total nationwide lockdown.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,881
  2. Italy – 31,506
  3. Iran – 16,169
  4. Spain – 11,826
  5. Germany – 9,367
  6. South Korea – 8,320
  7. France – 7,730
  8. United States – 6,439
  9. Switzerland – 2,742
  10. United Kingdom – 1,950

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,226
  2. Italy – 2,503
  3. Iran – 988
  4. Spain – 533
  5. France – 175
  6. United States – 109
  7. South Korea – 81
  8. United Kingdom – 71
  9. Netherlands – 43
  10. Japan – 29

France Begins Full Lockdown

France, another European country severely hit by the virus, begins a stringent nationwide lockdown.

The previous day, President Emmanuel Macron announced that citizens would last for 15 days from midnight on Tuesday, though this period would later be extended by another two weeks. During this time, citizens would be required to stay in their homes, permitted to leave only for work, to shop for essentials, for brief periods of exercise, or for emergencies. Non-essential shops and other services had already been closed since Saturday.

Subsequent news reports will paint an eerie picture of the deserted and silent streets of Paris.

March 18th – UK Closes Schools

Confirmed Cases: 218,663
Total Deaths:
8,943
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: UK announces the closure of schools “until further notice”.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,894
  2. Italy – 35,713
  3. Iran – 17,361
  4. Spain – 14,769
  5. Germany – 12,327
  6. United States – 9,257
  7. France – 9,134
  8. South Korea – 8,413
  9. Switzerland – 3,115
  10. Netherlands – 2,051

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. China – 3,237
  2. Italy – 2,978
  3. Iran – 1,135
  4. Spain – 638
  5. France – 264
  6. United States – 150
  7. United Kingdom – 104
  8. South Korea – 84
  9. Netherlands – 58
  10. Switzerland – 33

UK Announces Closure of Schools

UK government officials announce that, from Friday, all schools, colleges, nurseries, and other educational institutions will be closed “until further notice”. Exceptions will be made only for the children of key workers.

The UK is one of the last countries in Europe to close its schools, a delay which drew criticism from some sectors.

March 19th – Italy Overtakes China

Confirmed Cases: 244,852
Total Deaths:
10,030
Hotspots: China, Italy
Key Developments: Italy’s coronavirus-related death toll overtakes China’s.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 80,928
  2. Italy – 41,035
  3. Iran – 18,407
  4. Spain – 18,077
  5. Germany – 15,320
  6. United States – 13,801
  7. France – 10,995
  8. South Korea – 8,565
  9. Switzerland – 4,222
  10. United Kingdom – 3,269

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 3,405
  2. China – 3,245
  3. Iran – 1,284
  4. Spain – 831
  5. France – 372
  6. United States – 207
  7. United Kingdom – 144
  8. South Korea – 91
  9. Netherlands – 76
  10. Germany – 44

Italy’s Death Rate Overtakes China’s

China may have been the country first hit by the Coronavirus; but on 19 March, Italy’s death toll reaches 3,405, beating out China’s 3,245.

Despite some debate as to whether China’s reported death rate can be considered reliable, this grim revelation further solidifies Italy as a second epicenter of the virus.

March 23rd – UK Announces Lockdown

Confirmed Cases: 378,481
Total Deaths:
16,495
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: UK announces three-week nationwide lockdown restrictions.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 81,093
  2. Italy – 63,927
  3. United States – 43,469
  4. Spain – 35,136
  5. Germany – 29,056
  6. Iran – 23,049
  7. France – 19,856
  8. South Korea – 8,961
  9. Switzerland – 8,795
  10. United Kingdom – 6,650

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 6,077
  2. China – 3,270
  3. Spain – 2,311
  4. Iran – 1,812
  5. France – 860
  6. United States – 545
  7. United Kingdom – 335
  8. Netherlands – 213
  9. Germany – 123
  10. Switzerland – 120

UK Announces Lockdown

UK prime minister Boris Johnson, speaking in a televised interview, announces that, for the next three weeks, the country will be placed under effective lockdown. Citizens will be forbidden to leave their homes other than to seek medical attention, shop for essentials, or do brief forms of exercise. Any nonessential shops will be closed, and gatherings of more than two people will be forbidden, all under penalty of law.

Some of Johnson’s critics argue that the lockdown is an effort to save face after what was seen as a lax initial reaction to the pandemic on the part of the UK government.

March 24th – India Announces Lockdown

Confirmed Cases: 421,180
Total Deaths:
18,804
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: India announces 21-day nationwide lockdown.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 81,171
  2. Italy – 69,176
  3. United States – 53,588
  4. Spain – 42,058
  5. Germany – 32,991
  6. Iran – 24,811
  7. France – 22,304
  8. Switzerland – 9,877
  9. South Korea – 9,037
  10. United Kingdom – 8,077

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 6,820
  2. China – 3,277
  3. Spain – 2,991
  4. Iran – 1,934
  5. France – 1,100
  6. United States – 696
  7. United Kingdom – 422
  8. Netherlands – 276
  9. Germany – 159
  10. Switzerland – 122

India Announces Lockdown

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi announces that, for the next 21 days, there will be a “total ban” on citizens across the country leaving their homes. He does not mention any specific exceptions, but asserts that the “supply of essential goods will be maintained”.

The announcement comes after a succession of increasingly strict decrees that had already placed significant portions of the population under lockdown.

Though less severely hit by the virus than some countries, India is a densely-populated, highly-urbanized country immensely susceptible to the spread of infectious disease.

Modi’s announcement requires the cooperation of 1.3 billion citizens across a country already fraught with social, economic and political discord.

March 25th – Prince Charles Tests Positive

Confirmed Cases: 468,172
Total Deaths:
21,180
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: United States Congress approves an unprecedented $2 trillion economic relief package; Prince Charles confirmed to be suffering from Coronavirus.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. China – 81,218
  2. Italy – 74,386
  3. United States – 65,652
  4. Spain – 49,515
  5. Germany – 37,323
  6. Iran – 27,017
  7. France – 25,233
  8. Switzerland – 10,897
  9. United Kingdom – 9,529
  10. South Korea – 9,137

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 7,503
  2. Spain – 3,647
  3. China – 3,281
  4. Iran – 2,077
  5. France – 1,331
  6. United States – 931
  7. United Kingdom – 465
  8. Netherlands – 356
  9. Germany – 206
  10. Belgium – 178

US Approves Historical Stimulus Package

After several days of intense back-and-forth, the United States Congress approves a stimulus package valued at over $2 trillion. The package is intended to stimulate and stabilize the US economy following the damage it has endured due to the pandemic. This marks the largest aid deal in US history.

This unprecedented decision once again demonstrates the tremendous impact of the disease upon national economies – an impact, it is clear, that will require drastic action if it is to be properly undone.

Prince Charles Diagnosed With Coronavirus

A picture of Charles, Prince of Wales, taken in 2012.
Charles, Prince of Wales, who was confirmed on March 25th to be suffering from COVID-19 | Source: Dan Marsh via Wikimedia Commons

A spokesperson from Clarence House confirms that Charles, Prince of Wales, was diagnosed with Coronavirusearlier in the week.

The announcement assures the public that the royal’s symptoms are mild, and that his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, has tested negative for the disease.

March 26th – First Royal Dies

Confirmed Cases: 525,605
Total Deaths:
23,711
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: Princess María Teresa of Bourbon-Parma becomes the first royal to die of COVID-19.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United Stats – 81,996
  2. China – 81,285
  3. Italy – 80,589
  4. Spain – 56,347
  5. Germany – 43,646
  6. Iran – 29,406
  7. France – 29,155
  8. Switzerland – 11,811
  9. United Kingdom – 11,658
  10. South Korea – 9,241

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 8,215
  2. Spain – 4,154
  3. China – 3,287
  4. Iran – 2,234
  5. France – 1,696
  6. United States – 1,177
  7. United Kingdom – 578
  8. Netherlands – 434
  9. Germany – 262
  10. Belgium – 220

First Royal Dies From COVID-19

Princess María Teresa of Bourbon-Parma, 4th cousin of Felipe VI, the King of Spain, becomes the first member of royalty to die of the Coronavirus.

A statement by her younger brother, Prince Sixtus Henry, confirms that the princess passed away at Cochin Hospital in Paris. She was 86 years old.

Maria Teresa was a prominent women’s rights activist, and was noted for her socialist ideals. Though her age made her especially vulnerable to the disease, her death nonetheless comes as a blow to the Spanish nation, where the disease has grown especially pervasive. She is but one of over 4,000 Spanish citizens to have succumbed to the disease so far.

March 27th – Boris Johnson Tests Positive

Confirmed Cases: 590,287
Total Deaths:
26,945
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: South Africa begins a three-week lockdown and, on the same day, experiences its first two Coronavirus-related deaths; meanwhile, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is diagnosed with Coronavirus.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 100,392
  2. Italy – 86,498
  3. China – 81,340
  4. Spain – 64,285
  5. Germany – 50,871
  6. France – 32,964
  7. Iran – 32,332
  8. United Kingdom – 14,543
  9. Switzerland – 12,928
  10. South Korea – 9,332

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 9,134
  2. Spain – 4,940
  3. China – 3,292
  4. Iran – 2,378
  5. France – 1,995
  6. United States – 1,543
  7. United Kingdom – 759
  8. Netherlands – 546
  9. Germany – 342
  10. Belgium – 289

First Death & Three Week Lockdown In South Africa

A picture of an electronic roadsign, located in the Western Cape of South Africa, reading "COVID-19 lockdown in effect".
An electronic road sign near Paarl in South Africa announcing the implementation of the lockdown | Source: Brandon Gregory via Wikimedia Commons

South Africa begins its first full day of a 21-day nationwide lockdown. The lockdown, one of the strictest on the planet, requires citizens to stay in their homes for the next three weeks, only leaving to shop for essentials or seek medical attention. All but a handful of essential businesses will be kept closed, and the sale of alcohol will be banned.

On the same day, officials announce that South Africa has experienced its first Coronavirus-related death. The patient, a 48-year-old woman, passed away at a hospital in the Western Cape province. A second potential victim is later revealed to have passed away from unrelated complications.

The level of the lockdown is unprecedented in the country’s democratic history. Its severity reflects how essential it is that more economically and politically unstable countries restrict the spread of the disease before it can reach epidemic levels. Time will tell how effective these measures will prove to be.

Boris Johnson Diagnosed With COVID-19

A picture of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who confirmed on March 27th that he had tested positive for COVID-19 | Source: Ben Shread via Wikimedia Commons

In a public video message, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirms that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He announces that he will be isolating and working from his home in Downing Street, but asserts that he will continue to lead the country in its fight against the outbreak.

Various other prominent individuals in the UK government, including Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, began to show symptoms of the disease around the same time; and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive. 

March 28th – US Passes 100,000 Cases

Confirmed Cases: 658,205
Total Deaths:
30,441
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: Coronavirus cases in the US overtake 100,000.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 120,204
  2. Italy – 92,472
  3. China – 81,394
  4. Spain – 72,335
  5. Germany – 57,695
  6. France – 37,575
  7. Iran – 35,408
  8. United Kingdom – 17,089
  9. Switzerland – 14,076
  10. Netherlands – 9,762

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 10,023
  2. Spain 5,820
  3. China – 3,295
  4. Iran – 2,517
  5. France – 2,314
  6. United States – 1,995
  7. United Kingdom – 1,019
  8. Netherlands – 639
  9. Germany – 430
  10. Belgium – 353

US Cases Overtake 100,000

The US becomes the first country in the world with over 100,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases, overtaking China and Italy to become the country with the highest number of cases in the world.

March 30th – 2020 Olympics Postponed

Confirmed Cases: 774,422
Total Deaths:
37,078
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, Iran
Key Developments: The Tokyo Olympics are officially moved 364 days forward.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 158,571
  2. Italy – 101,739
  3. Spain – 85,195
  4. China – 81,470
  5. Germany – 66,125
  6. France – 44,550
  7. Iran – 41,495
  8. United Kingdom – 22,141
  9. Switzerland – 15,760
  10. Belgium – 11,899

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 11,591
  2. Spain – 7,340
  3. China – 3,304
  4. France – 3,024
  5. United States – 2,938
  6. Iran – 2,757
  7. United Kingdom – 1,408
  8. Netherlands – 864
  9. Germany – 616
  10. Belgium – 513

Tokyo Olympics Officially Rescheduled

A picture of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building with posters on the wall advertising the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Posters in Tokyo advertising the 2020 Olympics, which, on March 30th, were officially postponed for a year | Source: Ftaaffe via Wikimedia Commons

The International Olympic Committee confirms that the Tokyo Olympics will be rescheduled for July 23, 2021, 364 days after their initially planned opening date. This decision, it is hoped, will allow officials to better make any preparations that the outbreak will necessitate.

The first postponement in the history of the Summer Olympics, this decision is, needless to say, a drastic one, and another sign of COVID-19’s severe impact.

It is estimated that the delay could cost Japan around $6 billion, a severe blow to an already somewhat flagging economy. Nonetheless, the International Olympic Committee expressed hope that the eventual hosting of the games could serve as something of a symbol of hope during the outbreak period. 

April 2020

April 1st – Wimbledon Cancelled

Confirmed Cases: 885,530
Total Deaths:
44,215
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: Multiple major sports championships, including Wimbledon, are postponed.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 188,881
  2. Italy – 105,792
  3. Spain – 102,136
  4. China – 81,554
  5. Germany – 74,508
  6. France – 52,128I
  7. Iran – 47,593
  8. United Kingdom – 29,474
  9. Switzerland – 17,137
  10. Belgium – 13,964

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 12,428
  2. Spain – 9,053
  3. United States – 4,066
  4. France – 3,523
  5. China – 3,312
  6. Iran – 3,036
  7. United Kingdom – 2,352
  8. Netherlands – 1,173
  9. Belgium – 828
  10. Germany – 821

Several Major Sports Championships Postponed

In the wake of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the postponement or cancellation of several other major national and international sporting events is announced.

This includes the first cancellation of the Wimbledon championships since World War II, and the postponement of all UEFA football games until further notice. The economic impact of delaying such major and culturally significant sporting events will no doubt be tremendous.

April 2nd – 1,000,000 Confirmed Infections

Confirmed Cases: 1,000,177
Total Deaths:
51,365
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: The official global infection rate for COVID-19 passes 1 million, while official death toll passes 50,000

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 235,747
  2. Italy – 155,242
  3. Spain – 110,238
  4. Germany – 84,264
  5. China – 81,589
  6. France – 59,105
  7. Iran – 50,468
  8. United Kingdom – 33,718
  9. Switzerland – 18,827
  10. Turkey – 18,135

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 13,915
  2. Spain – 10,096
  3. United States – 5,620
  4. France – 4,503
  5. China – 3,318
  6. Iran – 3,160
  7. United Kingdom – 2,921
  8. Netherlands – 1,339
  9. Germany – 1,074
  10. Belgium – 1,011

Global Infection Rates Pass 1 Million

The official number of COVID-19 infections worldwide surpasses 1 million, while the total number of deaths surpasses 50,000. However, these numbers are, of course, based solely on known cases and deaths. Experts estimate that, accounting for as-yet undiagnosed cases and deaths (particularly in countries with limited medical resources), the true numbers are far higher.

April 3rd – UK Builds Field Hospitals

Confirmed Cases: 1,089,478
Total Deaths:
58,467
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: The first of the NHS Nightingale temporary hospitals is completed.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 271,152
  2. Italy – 119,827
  3. Spain – 117,710
  4. Germany – 91,159
  5. China – 81,620
  6. France – 64,338
  7. Iran – 53,183
  8. United Kingdom – 38,168
  9. Turkey – 20,921
  10. Switzerland – 19,606

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 14,681
  2. Spain – 11,009
  3. United States – 6,946
  4. France – 6,507
  5. United Kingdom – 3,605
  6. China – 3,322
  7. Iran – 3,294
  8. Netherlands – 1,487
  9. Germany – 1,275
  10. Belgium – 1,143

First NHS Nightingale Hospital Completed

A picture of the main entrance of the NHS Nightingale Hospital, a temporary hospital set up at the ExCel convention centre in London.
The NHS Nightingale Hospital at London’s ExCel convention centre, which completed construction on April 3rd | Source: Sludge G via Wikimedia Commons

The NHS Nightingale Hospital, a temporary new hospital dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 cases, opens its doors at the ExCeL convention center in London. Construction on the hospital began on 25 March, and was completed just over a week later.

The Nightingale Hospital is the first of its kind, with the NHS planning to open a number of similar field hospitals at various locations across Britain. These new hospitals, it is hoped, will provide considerable extra space for the treatment of new COVID-19 cases.

Temporary and makeshift hospitals are a rarity in first-world countries, generally only being built in times of war or outbreak.

April 5th – Queen Elizabeth Makes An Address

Confirmed Cases: 1,261,095
Total Deaths:
68,468
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: Queen Elizabeth II addresses nation; UK health secretary Matt Hancock discusses banning exercise

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 331,285
  2. Spain – 130,759
  3. Italy – 128,948
  4. Germany – 100,009
  5. France – 89,953
  6. China – 81,669
  7. Iran – 58,226
  8. United Kingdom – 47,806
  9. Turkey – 27,069
  10. Switzerland – 21,100

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 15,887
  2. Spain – 12,418
  3. United States – 9,479
  4. France – 7,560
  5. United Kingdom – 4,934
  6. Iran – 3,603
  7. China – 3,329
  8. Netherlands – 1,766
  9. Germany – 1,575
  10. Belgium – 1,447

Queen Elizabeth II Addresses the Nation

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Queen Elizabeth II, who made an unprecedented public address regarding the coronavirus on April 5th | Source: Bill Ingalls via NASA

In one of her rare public appearances, the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II addresses the nation in a video recorded at Windsor Castle. She urges the country to remain unified in the fight against the disease, praising the efforts of health workers.

The Queen’s national addresses are rare, usually only taking place at Christmas, and during the installation of a new Parliament. It is generally only in times of particular national crisis that this schedule is disrupted.

Indeed, the Queen herself compares the current outbreak to the loss of life endured by the country to the Second World War, the time of her first national address. Her public appearance is perhaps one of the clearest signs to the UK public that the nation has entered a crisis.

UK Health Secretary Discussing Banning Exercise

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock remarks how harsher lockdown measures, including the banning of all outdoor exercise, may be necessary if current lockdown laws continue to be defied. His remarks are apparently brought on by a widespread defiance of the current lockdown by UK citizens who have decided to take advantage of the warm weather by strolling and sunbathing in the parks.

“Sunbathing is against the rules that have been set out for important public health reasons” Hancock says in an interview with the BBC. “If you don’t want us to have to take the step to ban exercise of all forms outside your own home then you have to follow the rules. Let’s not have a minority spoiling it for everybody”.

Prior to the outbreak, the notion of banning outdoor exercise was all but unheard of in much of the modern world; and even of the suggestion of it further drives home the severity of the situation.

April 6th – Boris Johnson Moved to ICU

Confirmed Cases: 1,335,570
Total Deaths:
74,134
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved into intensive care.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 360,901
  2. Spain – 135,032
  3. Italy – 132,547
  4. Germany – 102,024
  5. France – 98,010
  6. China – 81,708
  7. Iran – 60,500
  8. United Kingdom – 51,608
  9. Turkey – 30,217
  10. Switzerland – 21,657

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 16,523
  2. Spain – 13,169
  3. United States – 10,691
  4. France – 8,911
  5. United Kingdom – 5,373
  6. Iran – 3,739
  7. China – 3,331
  8. Netherlands – 1,867
  9. Germany – 1,695
  10. Belgium – 1,632

UK Prime Minister Moved Into Intensive Care

A Downing Street spokesperson confirms that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved into the intensive care unit of St Thomas’ Hospital in London.

Johnson was first admitted to the hospital on Sunday evening. Though he was reportedly in ‘good spirits’ at the time, his worsening symptoms resulted in him being relocated to the ICU the next day.

Though Johnson was first diagnosed with COVID-19 over a week ago, his relocation to intensive care makes it clear to the nation that the case is a serious one. Needless to say, the prospect of a national leader being in such a critical condition during such a time of crisis is a concerning one indeed.

April 7th – Trump Threatens WHO Funding; Air Pollution Linked To Death Rates

Confirmed Cases: 1,419,142
Total Deaths:
81,512
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: Research links air pollution to higher death rates; US President Donald Trump threatens to cut WHO funding.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 391,665
  2. Spain – 140,617
  3. Italy – 135,586
  4. France – 106,069
  5. Germany – 107,458
  6. China – 81,740
  7. Iran – 62,589
  8. United Kingdom – 55,242
  9. Turkey – 34,109
  10. Switzerland – 22,253

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 17,127
  2. Spain – 13,912
  3. United States – 12,561
  4. France – 10,328
  5. United Kingdom – 6,159
  6. Iran – 3,872
  7. China – 3,331
  8. Netherlands – 2,101
  9. Belgium – 2,035
  10. Germany – 1,983

Air Pollution Linked To Death Rates

A picture of an extremely smoggy skyline over Delhi.
New research released on April 7th indicated a link between air pollution levels and deaths related to COVID-19 | Source: Prami.ap90 via Wikimedia Commons

New research conducted in the US indicates a link between an area’s air pollution and its COVID-19 death rates.

The research, conducted by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, made use of data from over 3,000 different US counties. Results indicate that an individual who has lived for an extended period of time in a county with higher air pollution levels is 15 percent more likely to die of a COVID-19 infection. This is likely due to the debilitating long-term effects of air pollution upon the respiratory system.

At around the same time, data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK indicates that air pollution has notably fallen since the beginning of lockdown, likely due to the drastic reduction in road traffic. How these statistics will affect each other is yet to be seen.

Trump Threatens To Cut WHO Funding

In a briefing at the White House, US President Donald Trump launched criticisms against the World Health Organizations handling of the pandemic. WHO, he asserted, had “called it wrong” and had been “very China-centric”.

Trump initially asserted that the US would put “a very powerful hold” on its investments in WHO, but later backtracked, saying that he would not cease funds immediately, and simply wanted to “look into it”.

While Trump is not the only one to level criticism against WHO’s handling of the outbreak, his comments nonetheless drew criticism. Only the previous day, a New York Times article revealed that, in late January, around the time Trump had been publicly downplaying the potential severity of the virus, he received a memo from his trade advisor, warning him of the potential severity of the disease. Critics asserted that Trump’s criticism of the WHO was an attempt to divert blame for his own failure to act on this warning in time.

Regardless of the motives behind Trump’s remarks, however, the incident serves as a nasty reminder that, even in this time of crisis, political interests could prove an enemy to global unity.

April 8th – Wuhan Lockdown Ends

Confirmed Cases: 1,509,678
Total Deaths:
88,334
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: Lockdown in Wuhan, “ground zero” of the virus, brought to an end.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 427,101
  2. Spain – 148,220
  3. Italy – 139,422
  4. Germany – 113,296
  5. France – 112,950
  6. China – 81,802
  7. Iran – 64,586
  8. United Kingdom – 60,733
  9. Turkey – 38,226
  10. Belgium – 23,403

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 17,669
  2. Spain – 14,792
  3. United States – 14,668
  4. France – 10,869
  5. United Kingdom – 7,097
  6. Iran – 3,993
  7. China – 3,333
  8. Germany – 2,349
  9. Netherlands – 2,248
  10. Belgium – 2,240

Lockdown in Wuhan Officially Ends

The Chinese city of Wuhan, believed to be “ground zero” of the COVID-19 outbreak, has been under strict lockdown since January 23rd. On April 8th, this lockdown is lifted.

Major transportation connections in the city, including road, rail and airspace, are being reopened. Anyone in the city who is rated “green” on a smartphone health app currently in widespread use across the country now has the freedom to leave the city.

The result is thousands of people who had been stranded in Wuhan since the 76-day lockdown began lining up en masse to leave Wuhan. On this day, approximately 10,000 people are scheduled to leave the city by plane, while an additional 55,000 are set to leave by train.

While strict lockdown measures remain in other parts of China, the lifting of the lockdown in the initial epicenter of the virus offers some hope to a great many people across the world of a return to normal life in the coming months.

April 9th – UK Lockdown to Stay

Confirmed Cases: 1,158,490
Total Deaths:
94,705
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran
Key Developments: UK foreign secretary urges citizens to stay indoors, declines to discuss easing the lockdown.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 456,712
  2. Spain – 152,446
  3. Italy – 143,626
  4. France – 117,749
  5. Germany – 115,523
  6. China – 81,865
  7. Iran – 66,220
  8. United Kingdom – 65,077
  9. Turkey – 42,282
  10. Belgium – 24,983

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 18,279
  2. United States – 16,231
  3. Spain – 15,238
  4. France – 12,210
  5. United Kingdom – 7,978
  6. Iran – 4,110
  7. China – 3,335
  8. Belgium – 2,523
  9. Germany – 2,451
  10. Netherlands – 2,396

UK Foreign Secretary Urges Citizens To Stay Indoors

A picture of a nearly-empty Piccadilly Circus tube station in London during lockdown.
A nearly-empty Piccadilly Circus station during lockdown. At 3.10pm on a Saturday, this London Underground station would normally be swarming with commuters | Source: Kwh1050 via Wikimedia Commons

With the Easter weekend around the corner, UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab urges citizens to ensure that any festivities are kept to their homes.

“After all the efforts everybody has made, after all the sacrifices so many people have made, let’s not ruin it now” Raab says. Raab also declines to discuss any potential easing of the lockdown, saying that a decision would only come at “the end of next week”.

The notion of confining such a heavily populated nation to their homes during what is normally a period of festivities (which usually translate into some level of economic stimulation) is a drastic one indeed; nonetheless, polls indicate that, despite economic fears, the majority of the UK population supports the lockdown.

April 10th – EU Announces Rescue Package

Confirmed Cases: 1,687,857
Total Deaths:
102,198
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: EU approves a €500bn rescue package for European countries.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 495,750
  2. Spain – 157,053
  3. Italy – 147,577
  4. France – 124,869
  5. Germany – 121,045
  6. China – 81,907
  7. United Kingdom – 73,758
  8. Iran – 68,192
  9. Turkey – 47,029
  10. Belgium – 26,667

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. Italy – 18,849
  2. United States – 18,430
  3. Spain – 15,970
  4. France – 13,197
  5. United Kingdom – 8,958
  6. Iran – 4,232
  7. China – 3,336
  8. Belgium – 3,019
  9. Germany – 2,728
  10. Netherlands – 2,511

EU Approves €500bn Rescue Package

Mário Centeno, chairman of the Eurogroup, announces that EU finance ministers officially approved a €500bn rescue package for European countries. The cash injection, it is hoped, will help counter what is expected to be one of the biggest economic recessions in European history.

This is, however, less than half of the amount initially recommended by the European Central Bank, which stated that the European bloc may need as much as €1.5tr to counter the crisis effectively.

Europe is the continent hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak, currently accounting for around 65% of deaths related to the disease. The economic consequences of the outbreak, as indicated by the size of this new rescue package, is bound to be drastic, and to have a widespread effect on the global economy in general.

April 11th – UK Pledges Extra Funds To Fight Domestic Violence

Confirmed Cases: 1,778,043
Total Deaths:
108,749
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: In the wake of rising domestic abuse rates, the UK government pledges an extra £2m to domestic abuse helplines.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 532,092
  2. Spain – 163,027
  3. Italy – 152,271
  4. France – 129,654
  5. Germany – 125,452
  6. China – 81,953
  7. United Kingdom – 78,991
  8. Iran – 70,029
  9. Turkey – 52,167
  10. Belgium – 28,018

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 20,562
  2. Italy – 19,468
  3. Spain – 16,606
  4. France – 13,832
  5. United Kingdom – 9,875
  6. Iran – 4,357
  7. Belgium – 3,346
  8. China – 3,339
  9. Germany – 2,871
  10. Netherlands – 2,643

UK Pledges An Extra £2m To Help Domestic Abuse Victims

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel announces that the government will be pledging an extra £2m to online domestic abuse support services and helplines.

The announcement comes in the wake of reports that the UK’s National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25 percent increase in call rates over a five-day period since the lockdown began. Reports from activists indicate that countries around the world have seen a similar increase in domestic violence cases since the outbreak began.

Precise reasons for this dramatic increase are unclear, but it has been theorized that, due to widespread lockdowns, domestic abuse victims have less opportunity to leave their homes. This combines with the fact that domestic abuse cases are known to rise during times of economic crises, which are now increasingly widespread due to the outbreak.

April 12th – Extended Isolation For EU’s Elderly Discussed

Confirmed Cases: 1,851,578
Total Deaths:
114,175
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: President of the European Commission discusses the possibility of isolating the elderly for another year.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 560,246
  2. Spain – 166,831
  3. Italy – 156,363
  4. France – 132,591
  5. Germany – 127,854
  6. United Kingdom – 84,279
  7. China – 82,052
  8. Iran – 71,686
  9. Turkey – 56,956
  10. Belgium – 29,647

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 22,101
  2. Italy – 19,899
  3. Spain – 17,209
  4. France – 14,393
  5. United Kingdom – 10,612
  6. Iran – 4,474
  7. Belgium – 3,600
  8. China – 3,339
  9. Germany – 3,022
  10. Netherlands – 2,737

EU Chief Discusses Extended Isolation For the Elderly

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, remarks that the EU’s elderly may need to be kept in isolation for another year to protect them from the virus.

Speaking to German newspaper Bild, von der Leyen remarks that, even if lockdown in the EU is eased for other members of the population during the year, elderly citizens, who are more vulnerable to the virus, will likely need to be kept in isolation until 2021.

“I know it’s difficult and that isolation is a burden, but it is a question of life or death, we have to remain disciplined and patient” she remarks.

Her warning comes as yet another reminder that, even if a vaccine for COVID-19 should be found this year, its effects upon daily life will likely continue to linger long after the year ends.

April 14th: Trump Repeats WHO Funding Threats

Confirmed Cases: 1,968,943
Total Deaths: 123,783
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: US President Trump repeats his threats to cut US funding to the World Health Organization.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 598,737
  2. Spain – 172,541
  3. Italy – 162,488
  4. France – 136,779
  5. Germany – 131,100
  6. United Kingdom – 93,873
  7. China – 82,249
  8. Iran – 74,877
  9. Turkey – 65,111
  10. Belgium – 31,119

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 24,770
  2. Italy – 21,067
  3. Spain – 18,056
  4. France – 14,967
  5. United Kingdom – 12,107
  6. Iran – 4,683
  7. Belgium – 4,157
  8. China – 3,341
  9. Germany – 3,261
  10. Netherlands – 2,945

Trump Again Announces Intention To Cut WHO Funding

A picture of US President Donald Trump.
US President Donald Trump, who on April 14th reiterated his earlier threats to cut US funding to the World Health Organisation | Source: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

US President Donald Trump once again announces his intention to cut US funding to the World Health Organisation.

Trump asserts that WHO had been biased in China’s favor during the outbreak, and stated that US funding of the organization will be halted while a review is conducted to “assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the Coronavirus”. The review, he says, will last around 60 to 90 days.

Trump’s announcement draws considerable criticism. UN Secretary General António Guterres asserts that the WHO is “absolutely critical” in the war against COVID-19, and stats that now was “not the time” to sever its funding. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, meanwhile, asserts on Twitter that, during a global health crisis such as this one, cutting funding to WHO is “as dangerous as it sounds”.

Critics once again assert that Trump is using criticism of the WHO to deflect from his own failings in preventing the spread of the disease.

April 15th – Denmark Reopens Primary Schools

Confirmed Cases: 2,077,839
Total Deaths:
134,375
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: Denmark becomes the first country in Europe to reopen primary schools and nurseries.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 643,508
  2. Spain – 177,604
  3. Italy – 165,155
  4. France – 147,863
  5. Germany – 134,753
  6. United Kingdom – 98,476
  7. China – 82,295
  8. Iran – 76,389
  9. Turkey – 69,392
  10. Belgium – 33,573

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 28,506
  2. Italy – 21,645
  3. Spain – 18,708
  4. France – 17,167
  5. United Kingdom – 12,868
  6. Iran – 4,777
  7. Belgium – 4,440
  8. Germany – 3,804
  9. China – 3,342
  10. Netherlands – 3,134

Primary Schools and Nurseries Reopen in Denmark

Classes once again begin at primary schools and nurseries in around half of Denmark’s municipalities. This makes Denmark the first country in Europe to reopen its primary schools since they shut down for the outbreak.

Particular care has been taken to ensure that social distancing is maintained as classes begin once again. Many schools have taken such measures as placing classroom desks several metres apart, dividing up playground space, keeping libraries closed, and forbidden gatherings in the staff room. Nevertheless, the decision to start up classes again has proven a controversial one, with some parents asserting that their children are being used as “guinea pigs” to test the effects of reopening schools during the outbreak.

Denmark’s reopening of schools could be considered one of the first steps toward a return to normal life following the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Time will tell, however, whether it was the correct step to take.

April 16th – UK Lockdown Extended

Confirmed Cases: 2,179,905
Total Deaths:
145,410
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: UK lockdown measures are extended by at least another three weeks.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 677,056
  2. Spain – 184,948
  3. Italy – 168,941
  4. France – 165,027
  5. Germany – 137,698
  6. United Kingdom – 103,093
  7. China – 82,341
  8. Iran – 77,995
  9. Turkey – 74,193
  10. Belgium – 34,809

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 34,580
  2. Italy – 22,170
  3. Spain – 19,315
  4. France – 17,920
  5. United Kingdom – 13,729
  6. Iran – 4,869
  7. Belgium – 4,857
  8. Germany – 4,052
  9. China – 3,342
  10. Netherlands – 3,315

UK Lockdown Extended By Three Weeks

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, currently deputising for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announces that lockdown in Britain will continue for “at least” another three weeks.

Raab asserts that the country is at a “delicate and dangerous phase” of the outbreak, and that easing lockdown restrictions could prove economically disastrous should infection rates reach a “second peak”.

Asked for a timeline on when restrictions would be lifted, Raab cited Boris Johnson’s statement, made on March 19th, that it would take around another three months to “turn the tide” of the pandemic.

April 17th – Wuhan Death Toll Raised

Confirmed Cases: 2,231,238
Total Deaths:
150,837
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom
Key Developments: Newly released data reveals Wuhan’s number of COVID-19 deaths to be at least 50% higher than previously thought.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 686,431
  2. Spain – 188,068
  3. Italy – 172,434
  4. France – 165,027
  5. Germany – 138,497
  6. United Kingdom – 108,692
  7. China – 82,692
  8. Iran – 78,494
  9. Turkey – 78,546
  10. Belgium – 36,138

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 35,578
  2. Italy – 22,745
  3. Spain – 19,478
  4. France – 17,920
  5. United Kingdom – 14,576
  6. Belgium – 5,163
  7. Iran – 4,958
  8. China – 4,632
  9. Germany – 4,193
  10. Netherlands – 3,459

COVID-19 Death Toll In Wuhan Raised By 50%

A picture of the interior of a Wuhan Metro train. Various passengers can be seen wearing protective face masks.
Passengers wear protective face masks on the Wuhan Metro. Despite the citywide lockdown having been lifted earlier in the month, new numbers released on April 17th reveal that the city’s COVID-19 death toll was at least 50% higher than previous thought | Source: Painjet via Wikimedia Commons

Chinese officials release a revised death toll for the city of Wuhan. These new figures place the number of Coronavirus-related deaths in Wuhan at 3,869. This is an increase of 1,290 – or more than 50% – from previous numbers. This brings the total death toll in China to over 4,600.

Officials assert that the sudden increase was due to delayed reporting, as well as the accumulation of new data from various sources. Reportedly, COVID-19 patients who had died outside of hospitals had previously not been taken into account until now, and their accumulated numbers since the outbreak had been added to the official count.

Nonetheless, the release of these updated numbers is the source of some controversy, with critics asserting that the Chinese government had been deliberately covering up the extent of the death toll. The controversy was exacerbated by the fact that the Wuhan lockdown had been lifted earlier in the month.

April 19th – European Death Toll Passes 100,000

Confirmed Cases: 2,404,818
Total Deaths:
164,922
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: A university tally confirms that the COVID-19 death toll in Europe has passed 100,000.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 763,579
  2. Spain – 198,674
  3. Italy – 178,972
  4. France – 152,894
  5. Germany – 145,184
  6. United Kingdom – 120,067
  7. Turkey – 86,306
  8. China – 82,735
  9. Iran – 82,211
  10. Russia – 42,853

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 40,524
  2. Italy – 23,660
  3. Spain – 20,453
  4. France – 19,718
  5. United Kingdom – 16,060
  6. Belgium – 5,683
  7. Iran – 5,118
  8. China – 4,632
  9. Germany – 4,586
  10. Netherlands – 3,684

COVID-19 Death Toll In Europe Passes 100,000

A John Hopkins university tally confirms that the total amount of deaths from COVID-19 across Europe (excluding Russia) has surpassed 100,000.

Europe is one of the regions of the world hit most fatally by the outbreak. Death tolls in both Italy and Spain, in particular, reached over 20,000 only a few days previously. Some progress has been noted, however, with both countries also reporting a decline in daily death rates over the last few days.

Regardless, while it might be argued that some progress is being made in Europe (or, at least, that the current peak is tapering off), the continent’s death toll has reached a considerable milestone. This is a sobering fact that further drives home the reality of the pandemic.

April 20th – Expert Pessimistic About Tokyo Olympics

Confirmed Cases: 2,480,506
Total Deaths:
170,397
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: Infectious disease expert expresses doubt about the feasibility of holding the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 792,759
  2. Spain – 200,210
  3. Italy – 181,288
  4. France – 155,383
  5. Germany – 147,065
  6. United Kingdom – 124,743
  7. Turkey – 90,980
  8. Iran – 83,505
  9. China – 82,747
  10. Russia – 47,121

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 42,514
  2. Italy – 24,114
  3. Spain – 20,852
  4. France – 20,265
  5. United Kingdom – 16,509
  6. Belgium – 5,828
  7. Iran – 5,209
  8. Germany – 4,862
  9. China – 4,632
  10. Netherlands – 3,751

Disease Expert Is “Very Pessimistic” About Tokyo Olympics

A picture of the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, with a statue of the Olympic logo in the foreground.
The Japan National Stadium in Tokyo. Built for the now-postponed Tokyo Olympics, the stadium was completed in late 2019, and cost around $1.4bn to construct | Souce: Tokyo-Good via Wikimedia Commons

Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University, states that he is “very pessimistic” about the current plans to hold the Tokyo Olympics on July 2021.

In late March, the decision was made that, due to the outbreak, the Tokyo Olympics would be rescheduled for 23 July 2021, 364 days after their original opening date. Speaking at a teleconference, Iwata states that he does not believe that the Olympics would be held on this projected date, as it is unlikely that the pandemic will be sufficiently under control.

“Holding the Olympics needs two conditions” Iwata says. “Controlling COVID-19 in Japan, and controlling COVID-19 everywhere”. He stats that, unless every country taking part in the Olympics had the disease under control, holding the games would likely bring about a new wave of infection.

Iwata’s words are no doubt difficult to hear for many Olympic enthusiasts, both in Japan and across the world. Postponing the Olympics is an almost unprecedented move; and whether or not the projected 2021 date is maintained, the postponement’s cultural and economic impact will no doubt be tremendous.

April 21st – Trump Plans To Ban Immigration; South African President Announces Relief Plan

Confirmed Cases: 2,552,491
Total Deaths:
177,234
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: US President Trump announces his intention to temporarily ban immigration into the US; South African president announces a new economic relief plan.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 816,385
  2. Spain – 204,178
  3. Italy – 183,957
  4. France – 158,050
  5. Germany – 148,291
  6. United Kingdom – 129,044
  7. Turkey – 95,591
  8. Iran – 84,802
  9. China – 82,758
  10. Russia – 52,763

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 45,174
  2. Italy – 24,648
  3. Spain – 21,282
  4. France – 20,796
  5. United Kingdom – 17,337
  6. Belgium – 5,998
  7. Iran – 5,297
  8. Germany – 5,033
  9. China – 4,632
  10. Netherlands – 3,916

US President Trump Plans Temporary Immigration Ban

US President Donald Trump posts a Tweet claiming that he will be temporarily suspending immigration into the United States. At a later press briefing, Trump asserts that his motivation for this is to protect the jobs of American citizens as businesses reopen following lockdown.

“By pausing immigration, we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens” says Trump. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American workers”.

The decision proves a controversial one, with many accusing Trump of perpetuating xenophobia and of making further attempts to distract from his own government’s mistakes in fighting the outbreak. Regardless of the motivations behind it, however, it is only one of the many examples of increasingly strict travel and immigration regulations implemented across the globe since the outbreak.

South African President Announces $26bn Relief Package

A picture of South African president Cyril Ramaphosa
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, who announced on April 21st that the government would be allocating $26bn to counter the economic effects of COVID-19 | Source: Presidential Press and Information Office via en.kremlin.ru

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa announces that a relief budget of 500 billion Rand ($26 billion) will be allocated to counteract the outbreak’s impact on the country’s economy. This amounts to around 10% of the country’s GDP. This relief package will be used, among other things, to boost the growth of the job market, fund social grants for underprivileged citizens, and provide tax relief for businesses and individuals.

Although South Africa is sub-Saharan Africa’s most developed country, it nonetheless suffers from severe economic inequality and high unemployment rates. The recent nationwide lockdown, which forced all but the most essential businesses to close their doors, has further stunted economic growth in the country.

April 22nd – Turkmenistan Claims No COVID-19 Cases; Missing Chinese Journalist Reappears

Confirmed Cases: 2,633,280
Total Deaths:
183,894
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: Turkmenistan officials claim the country has no coronavirus cases; Chinese journalist who disappeared for two months reappears.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 846,907
  2. Spain – 208,389
  3. Italy – 187,327
  4. France – 159,877
  5. Germany – 150,648
  6. United Kingdom – 139,495
  7. Turkey – 98,674
  8. Iran – 85,996
  9. China – 82,788
  10. Russia – 57,999

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 47,548
  2. Italy – 25,085
  3. Spain – 21,717
  4. France – 21,340
  5. United Kingdom – 18,100
  6. Belgium – 6,262
  7. Iran – 5,391
  8. Germany – 5,279
  9. China – 4,632
  10. Netherlands – 4,054

Turkmenistan Officials Assert That The Country Is Coronavirus-Free

A picture of Neutrality Road, a major thoroughfare in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan.
Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. As of April 22nd, Turkmenistan was one of only three countries in Asia (the other two being Tajikistan and North Korea) to have reported no cases of COVID-19 | Source: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking at a United Nations briefing, Turkmenistan officials asserted that Turkmenistan has discovered no cases of COVID-19 within its borders.

“If there was a single confirmed Coronavirus case we would have immediately informed…the World Healthcare Organization in line with our obligations” said Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov.

This, at the time, makes Turkmenistan one of the few countries on the planet to have reported no cases of the Coronavirus. This is especially odd considering that the country directly borders Iran, a country which has reported some of the highest numbers of infections and deaths in the world.

Nonetheless, some have expressed skepticism that Turkmenistan’s reports of being Coronavirus-free are accurate, pointing to such things as the country’s history of drastically downplaying its HIV case numbers in the decades following its independence.

These concerns are exacerbated by the fact that, compared to much of the rest of the world, Turkmenistan has made little effort to implement lockdown or social distancing among its citizens. Restaurants, markets, and other sites of public gathering are generally being kept open; and on April 7th, the country held a series of mass exercise events, including a cycling rally, to commemorate World Health Day. Moreover, while the country did close its borders earlier in the year, it is reportedly in the process of reopening them, including borders it shares with Iran.

Chinese Journalist Missing For Two Months Reappears

After vanishing for almost two months, Li Zehua, a Chinese citizen journalist, uploads a video to his social media accounts, claiming that he had been detained and quarantined by police.

Since early February, Li had been uploading videos documenting his time in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the outbreak, where he had arrived to investigate the disappearance of Chen Qiushi. Chen, a former human rights lawyer turned video journalist, was reported missing in early February. He had arrived in Wuhan just before the lockdown began, and, like Li, had been uploading videos reporting on the conditions in the city during the outbreak.

The last video on Li’s YouTube channel prior to his disappearance was a four-hour live stream, made on February 26th, that ended with a pair of uniformed men entering his accommodation.

Li would subsequently disappear from all his social media until two months later. On April 22nd, he uploads a video claiming that he had been detained by Wuhan police on suspicion of disrupting public order. Though he was ultimately not punished, Li explains that, due to having entered “epidemic-sensitive areas”, he was placed in self-isolation – first in Wuhan, then in his hometown – until March 28th, at which point he was permitted to return to his family. During this time, he says, he was provided with three meals a day and was allowed to watch the local news.

Chen Qiushi’s whereabouts remain unaccounted for.

April 23rd – US Unemployment Claims Reach 26 Million; Early Case Numbers In China Increased

Confirmed Cases: 2,714,995
Total Deaths:
190,397
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: US unemployment claims over past 5 weeks reaches over 26 million; research indicates that initial outbreak numbers in China were several times higher than initially thought.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 878,974
  2. Spain – 213,024
  3. Italy – 189,973
  4. France – 158,183
  5. Germany – 153,129
  6. United Kingdom – 138,078
  7. Turkey – 101,790
  8. Iran – 87,026
  9. China – 82,798
  10. Russia – 62,773

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 49,754
  2. Italy – 25,549
  3. Spain – 22,157
  4. France – 21,856
  5. United Kingdom – 18,738
  6. Belgium – 6,490
  7. Germany – 5,575
  8. Iran – 5,481
  9. China – 4,632
  10. Netherlands – 4,177

Number of Unemployed Claims In the US Reaches 26 Million

Reports from the US Department of Labor confirm that 4.4 million unemployment claims have been filed over the course of the week. Though this is slightly lower than the previous week, inspiring hope that the numbers are in remission, it nonetheless brings the total number of unemployment claims over the past five weeks to over 26 million.

While not every one of these unemployment claims will be deemed eligible, this abrupt and unprecedented surge in their number clearly reflects the drastic impact of the outbreak on the US economy.

Naturally, these numbers also do not reflect the great number of businesses who are being forced to cut their employees’ salaries and benefits due to the recent downturns in profit.

China’s First Coronavirus Wave May Have Been Four Times Higher

A study by Hong Kong researches indicates that the infection numbers for the initial wave of the COVID-19 outbreak in China may have been as much as four times higher than first reported.

Initial reports from China indicated that there were 55,000 cases of COVID-19 in the country as of late February. However, the new report indicates that, had the current definition of a COVID-19 case been in use at the time, the true number of cases may have been around 232,000.

Thanks to experts’ growing understanding of COVID-19 over the course of the outbreak, criteria for a COVID-19 case has grown increasingly broad. However, around late February, in order to prevent misdiagnosis, the criteria for a COVID-19 case to be counted among official numbers was extremely specific, and included full genome sequencing and a proven link to the city of Wuhan.

Considering the possibility of case criteria being broadened further, as well as some milder early cases being overlooked, it is possible that future research may indicate early case numbers to be higher still.

The new study serves as a grim reminder that even official COVID-19 statistics cannot be seen as a definitive indication of the extent of the extent of the outbreak; the disease is, after all, a relatively new one, and some numbers may be built on definitions that will later become outdated. However, at the same time, the changing definitions of COVID-19 cases could be seen as an indication that our understanding of the disease, and thus our ability to identify it, is evolving – which, of course, is the first step on the road to defeating the outbreak.

April 25th – UK Death Toll Passes 20,000

Confirmed Cases: 2,915,238
Total Deaths:
203,020
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: The UK becomes one of only five countries to report over 20,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 957,356
  2. Spain – 223,759
  3. Italy – 195,351
  4. France – 161,488
  5. Germany – 156,418
  6. United Kingdom – 148,377
  7. Turkey – 107,773
  8. Iran – 89,328
  9. China – 82,816
  10. Russia – 74,588

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 54,144
  2. Italy – 26,384
  3. Spain – 22,902
  4. France – 22,614
  5. United Kingdom – 20,319
  6. Belgium – 6,917
  7. Germany – 5,873
  8. Iran – 5,650
  9. China – 4,632
  10. Netherlands – 4,409

Death Toll In the UK Passes 20,000

Three months after the first cases in the country were confirmed, the UK, as of April 25th, has become one of only five countries to surpass 20,000 Coronavirus-related deaths.

The news has renewed nationwide concern about the long-term impact of the disease on the country – especially in light of the fact that, early on in the outbreak, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Science Adviser, remarked that keeping deaths below 20,000 would be a “good outcome”.

Authorities have noted that COVID-19 deaths seem to have peaked, occurring at a somewhat lower daily rate than they were earlier in the month – a trend that, it is hoped, will continue. Nonetheless, the death toll makes it clear that the outbreak is proving harder to contain than initially expected, and that it will continue to impact daily life for the foreseeable future – a fact confirmed by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who confirmed at a press briefing that the lockdown would not be lifted as of yet.

April 26th – Italy Discusses Easing Lockdown

Confirmed Cases: 2,995,850
Total Deaths:
206,898
Hotspots: China, Italy, USA, Spain, Germany, France, Iran, United Kingdom, Turkey
Key Developments: Italian Prime Minister discusses steps toward easing the national lockdown.

Top 10 countries with most infections:

  1. United States – 987,029
  2. Spain – 226,629
  3. Italy – 197,675
  4. France – 162,100
  5. Germany – 157,770
  6. United Kingdom – 152,840
  7. Turkey – 110,130
  8. Iran – 90,841
  9. China – 82,827
  10. Russia – 80,949

Top 10 countries with most deaths:

  1. United States – 55,411
  2. Italy – 26,644
  3. Spain – 23,190
  4. France – 22,856
  5. United Kingdom – 20,732
  6. Belgium – 7,049
  7. Germany – 5,976
  8. Iran – 5,710
  9. China – 4,632
  10. Netherlands – 4,475

Italian Prime Minister Discusses Easing National Lockdown

A picture of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who on April 26th discussed the steps to easing Italy’s lockdown | Source: www.governo.it

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, speaking on television, states that Italy will be beginning the process of easing the lockdown, outlining the steps that would be taken in doing so.

A tired-looking Conte explains that the process will begin on May 4th, and will continue over the course of the month, progressively allowing retailers, manufacturers, restaurants, and other businesses to relaunch operations.

Italy’s decision to ease the lockdown is an especially notable one considering that it is one of the countries most severely hit by the disease. The proposal to begin easing the country’s lockdown is a controversial one, but nonetheless offers some hope to other nations that the outbreak can be overcome, even if it has hit them severely.


The rapidly-developing nature of this global event mean it’s difficult to document every change from every country in the world. If there is an event or update you believe to be significant enough to warrant inclusion in this list, please add it to the comments below and we will consider it for the next update.

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