PARIS (AFP) – Key developments since the novel coronavirus was announced three months ago, setting out on a global rampage which has left tens of thousands of people dead.

New virus

On January 8, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) says a new coronavirus could be behind a pneumonia epidemic documented in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

China announces its first death in Wuhan on January 11.

Through January, cases emerge outside China.

Epicentre quarantined

On January 24, the first cases in Europe are recorded, in France.

Hubei province follows Wuhan in being placed in quarantine on January 25.

International emergency

On January 28, Germany and Japan announce the first two confirmed instances of human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 outside China.

Nations rush to evacuate their citizens from China.

On January 30, the WHO declares a “public health emergency of international concern”,  without recommending limiting travel and trade with China.

First deaths outside China, Asia

On February 2, the Philippines reports the first death outside China, a man from Wuhan.

On February 7, the WHO warns that the world is running out of masks and other protective equipment.

A week later, France reports the first death confirmed outside Asia, a Chinese tourist.

On February 19, as the toll tops 2,000, the WHO calls for “proportionate” actions to COVID-19’s international spread.

Serial cancellations

Major global firms express concerns about the sudden impact on their activities and bottom lines.

Trade shows, sporting competitions, arts events and festivities are cancelled. Flights to China are suspended.

Most cases outside China

The number of cases spirals in Italy, South Korea and Iran.

On February 25, the WHO says there is a risk of a pandemic. The next day the number of new cases in the rest of the world surpasses that of China.

Italy lockdown

The OECD lowers its global growth forecast for 2020.

By March 6, more than 100,000 cases have been recorded around the world.

On March 8, northern Italy is locked down, quickly followed by the rest of the country.

The next day a crash in oil prices causes global stock markets to fall sharply.


On March 11, the WHO says COVID-19 is a pandemic.

US borders gradually close to around 30 countries.

Governments and central banks roll out massive economic support measures.

Europe epicentre

On March 13, the WHO says Europe is the pandemic’s new epicentre.

Spain on March 14 and France on March 17 confine their populations.

Other European countries advise people to stay home and limit contact.

Planes grounded, borders closed

Airlines slash flights. Many countries shut their borders.

By March 18, more than 200,000 cases have been registered.

Italy hardest hit

On March 19, Italy becomes the country with the highest death toll.

A long list of countries and territories announce confinement measures.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warns against a worse recession than the one that followed the 2008 world financial crisis.

Billions confined

Japan’s 2020 Olympics are postponed on March 24.

As the number of US cases surges, the WHO says the US could overtake Europe as the coronavirus epicentre.

A day later, the UN warns the pandemic “is threatening the whole of humanity”.

The US Senate approves a US$2 trillion economic stimulus package.

More than three billion people are told to stay home around the world, against a billion two days earlier.

Wuhan out of isolation

On March 28, as China’s Wuhan starts to emerge from lockdown, Italy passes the 10,000 death mark, joined by Spain five days later.

On April 2, the symbolic bar of one million officially declared cases is passed, while one half of humanity is confined.