As the coronavirus balance sheet continues to climb in China, local authorities are stepping up efforts to contain the epidemic. From its emergence in the metropolis of Wuhan (center of the country) to its appearance in several other countries of Asia, in Europe and in the United States, back on the main stages of the spread of the new Chinese virus.
Close to SARS, the coronavirus, detected several from Asia, the United States, France and, most recently, in Australia, causes flu symptoms in infected people, up to severe respiratory syndromes. To date, it has infected nearly 1,300 people in China, where 41 have died, according to local authorities.
The first alert is received by the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019. Chinese authorities warn of the emergence in the metropolis of Wuhan (11 million inhabitants, capital of Hubei province) pneumonia of unknown origin. The virus is spotted in a wholesale seafood and fish market. Patient isolation measures are taken.
On January 7, 2020, the first virus sequencing analyzes carried out by Chinese teams made it possible to identify a new coronavirus, according to the WHO.
First death, case abroad
On the 11th, the Chinese authorities report the first death.
A first case of contamination outside of China, in Thailand, was reported two days later. Cases are then recorded elsewhere in Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan).
Controls in the United States and Asia
On the 17th, in the United States, screenings were set up at several major airports on flights from Wuhan.
Four days later, many countries in Asia or Oceania – the airports of Bangkok, Singapore, or even Sydney – as well as the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong and Russia tightened controls on the arrival of planes that have taken off from risk areas.
“Proven” human transmission
On the 20th, a Chinese expert, Zhong Nanshana, confirms that the disease is transmitted between humans. Nearly half of the Chinese provinces are affected, including mega-cities like Beijing in the north, Shanghai (east) and Shenzhen (south).
On the 21st, a first case was detected in the United States.
Possible virus mutation
On the 22nd, the Chinese authorities warn that the new coronavirus, which is transmitted by the respiratory tract, “could mutate and spread more easily”.
In Europe, London and Rome are announcing measures to monitor passengers from Wuhan.
Wearing a mask is made compulsory in public spaces in Wuhan.
Wuhan cut off from the world
On the 23rd, trains and planes departing from Wuhan can in principle no longer leave this agglomeration and the highways are blocked there. Several other cities in Hubei Province are cut off from the world. The closure of the Forbidden City is announced after the cancellation of the New Year festivities in Beijing.
No “international emergency”
In the evening, the WHO recognizes “the emergency in China”, judging however that it is “too early” to speak about “public health emergency of international scope”.
On the 24th, more than 40 million people were confined to Hubei province, which has nearly 60 million inhabitants. Two deaths are reported for the first time far from the cradle of the epidemic, one in Hebei, the region around Beijing, and the other in Heilongjiang, a province bordering Russia.
Some sections of the Great Wall are closed, as is the Disneyland amusement park in Shanghai.
First cases in Europe
Three cases are confirmed in France, the first in Europe. A second case is reported in the United States.
The Chinese army sends three planes to Hubei province carrying 450 medical personnel, including military doctors.
On the 25th, authorities in Wuhan announced the ban on the circulation of non-essential motor vehicles from midnight (4 p.m. GMT). Beijing orders national screening measures on trains, buses and planes.
Besides Wuhan, virtually the entire province of Hubei is now cut off from the world, bringing the total number of confined residents to over 56 million.
Hong Kong has decreed the maximum level of health alert on its territory in order to strengthen measures to combat the spread of the epidemic. For its part, Australia announces four first cases on its soil.