The world came to know about the novel coronavirus for the first time when China reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) that a mysterious respiratory disease of unknown origin emerged in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province on Dec. 31, 2019.

When COVID-19, which was initially seen as a regional epidemic affecting China and its surroundings, started to threaten global public health, the world started to follow developments related to the virus and measures to control and prevent its spread became a major concern for all countries.

The main developments and key turning points in the year since the COVID-19 outbreak first arose are as follows:

The disease was first detected in people who visited a seafood market in Wuhan. The first patient was admitted to the hospital on Nov. 17, 2019, with the complaint of a respiratory disease of an unknown cause.

On Dec. 31, 2019, China reported a mysterious respiratory disease was detected in Wuhan to the World Health Organization (WHO). An unknown type of virus was the suspected culprit for the lung-inflaming disease.

On Jan. 1, authorities closed the seafood market that the diseases first patients visited.

On Jan. 3, it was announced that the genetic structure of the virus that caused the disease was similar to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus, which emerged in 2002-2003 in China and spread across the world.

Novel coronavirus

The WHO on Jan. 7 announced that the disease is not caused by SARS but a new type of coronavirus. This novel coronavirus, which is a mutated betacoronavirus in bats, was named 2019-nCov.

The first death from the disease in China was reported on Jan. 11. The deceased was a 61-year-old man thought to have contracted the virus while shopping at the market in Wuhan.

On Jan. 13, the first case of COVID-19 was reported outside China when a female patient was diagnosed with COVID-19 in Thailand.

The first COVID-19 case in the US was detected roughly a week later on Jan. 21.

Global emergency

As the virus spread to new countries, people with COVID-19 were brought under treatment in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Nepal.

Meanwhile, all public transportation was halted and quarantine measures were put in place in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, on Jan. 23.

On Jan. 24, the first cases emerged in Europe. In France, the coronavirus was detected in two people who had returned from China, along with one of their relatives.

The WHO declared a global emergency on Jan. 30 due to the outbreak, while the UK, Italy and Spain reported their first cases on Jan. 31.

On Feb. 2, the first COVID-19 death outside China was reported in the Philippines.


On Feb. 11, the WHO announced that the coronavirus had been named COVID-19.

The first case on the African continent was reported in Egypt on Feb. 14.

One person who died of COVID-19 in France marked the first death on the European continent.

South Korea, Iran and Italy

Iran reported the first cases and fatalities in the country on Feb. 19.

On Feb. 21, Italy reported its first national cluster of COVID-19 in the Lombardy region. The fashion industry in Milan, which employs a high number of Chinese seasonal workers, made the region an epicenter of the disease.

South Korea reported a total of 229 cases in a single day on Feb. 22. It was reported that the spread within the congregation of a Catholic Christian Church in the southern city of Daegu played a role in the epidemic.

Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb. 25.

On Feb. 26, a businessperson coming back from Italy was confirmed as the first COVID-19 case in Brazil and the first infection in South America.

Saudi Arabia suspends Umrah visits

Saudi Arabia temporarily halted the entry of Umrah-goers from all countries due to fears over the coronavirus on Feb. 27.

The WHO raised the global risk of the novel coronavirus to “very high” from “high” on Feb. 28.

On Feb. 29, the US reported the first coronavirus-related death in the country.

In the first six days of March, the number of cases rose six-fold in Italy, leading the country to impose quarantine measures in Lombardy and 14 provinces on March 8.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte banned free movement in the country on March 10 and announced comprehensive quarantine measures.

1st case in Turkey

In the early hours of March 11, the Turkish Health Ministry announced the first COVID-19 case in the country.

The same day, the WHO declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

US President Donald Trump announced a 30-day border closure from Europe except for the UK.

Turkey temporarily suspended education for primary, secondary and university students on March 12.

On March 13, Trump declared a national emergency across the country due to the pandemic.

Four days later, the EU imposed a temporary 30-day travel restriction by third-country nationals to member states and the Schengen area.

France restricted free movement across the country and imposed comprehensive quarantine measures.

For the first time in China, officials announced no new cases of domestic origin on March 19.

On March 21, Turkey imposed a curfew for people aged 65 and over, as well as those with chronic illness.

The UK also imposed quarantine measures on March 23.

Olympics postponed

On March 24, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) postponed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for a year as the world continued to grapple with the impact of the coronavirus.

India announced a countrywide lockdown for 21 days on March 25.

On March 26, the number of COVID-19 cases in the US exceeded cases in China.

The US Congress approved an over $2-trillion coronavirus stimulus package on March 27 — the largest economic aid package in the country’s history.

UK premier tests positive

Also on March 27, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The number of COVID-19 cases across the world passed the 1-million mark on April 2.

Turkey on April 3 banned travel to and from 30 metropolitan cities, as well as the Black Sea Zonguldak province.

Wuhan lifts quarantine

On April 7, China reported no new deaths from COVID-19 for the first time and lifted lockdown measures in Wuhan city after 76 days.

The global total of COVID-19 fatalities exceeded 100,000 on April 10.

On April 14, Trump announced that the US halted funding to the WHO amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, accusing the organization of severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the virus outbreak.

Japan declared a state of emergency in seven regions, including Tokyo and Osaka, on April 16.

On April 22, the US suspended immigration to the country for 60 days.

Chinese authorities on April 24 announced that no new COVID-19 patients had been detected in the past week in Hubei province.

The number of COVID-19 cases passed the 1-million mark in the US on April 28.

US OKs use of anti-viral drug

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on May 1 approved remdesivir for emergency use in treating coronavirus patients after tests showed promising results.

China lowered its emergency level from the highest to the second-highest level in Hubei province on May 2.

On May 6, face-to-face education partially resumed in Wuhan.

On May 11, Russia became the country with the third-highest number of COVID-19 infections, with 221,344, following the US and Spain.

Biggest economic recession since Great Depression

The World Economic Situation and Prospects report issued by the UN on May 13 pegged estimated global economic shrinkage due to the COVID-19 outbreak at 3.2% in 2020. The report pointed out that the economic contraction was going to be the sharpest since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

On May 15, the Chinese government began to test Wuhan’s entire population of 11 million.

This was followed a day later with India topping China in total COVID-19 cases.

On May 20, the global coronavirus case count surpassed 5 million.

Wild animal trade ban in Wuhan

Chinese officials banned the trade and consumption of wild animals for five years in Wuhan following the eruption of the virus.

In the US, the number of unemployment applicants reached 40 million on May 21.

On May 22, Brazil became the country with the second-highest tally of COVID-19 cases, while the US remained on top.

For the first time since the outbreak started, China reported no new COVID-19 cases or deaths related to the virus.

On May 27, novel coronavirus fatalities in the US exceeded 100,000.

Trump cuts US-WHO ties

On May 29, President Trump pulled his country out of the WHO.

Six days prior, he had extended a decision to suspend the entry of immigrants into the country, first adopted for 60 days on April 22, until the end of the year.

In the early days of the following month, Latin America, South Africa and other African countries became the new spreading centers of COVID-19 despite relatively fewer cases compared to East Asia, North America and Europe.

As COVID-19 cases continued to rise around the world, the global total exceeded 10 million on June 27, while fatalities topped 500,000 a day later.

On July 1, the UN Security Council adopts a resolution calling for a 90-day global cease-fire as part of the fight against the outbreak.

British authorities on July 3 announced a list of 56 nations exempt from a mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement upon entry into the country.

On July 5, the WHO reported that medication trials including hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir had been suspended as a result of their failure to reduce death ratios.

Brazilian president gets infected

On July 7, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was diagnosed with COVID-19.

India, meanwhile, confirmed that cases in the country had topped 1 million on July 17.

On July 21, the EU passed a financial aid package worth €750 billion ($655.7 billion) to member countries worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

Afghan Health Minister Ahmad Jawad Osmani said on Aug. 5 that official COVID-19 cases were around 36,000, adding that up to about 10 million were estimated to have contracted the virus.

On Aug. 11, Russia approved the limited use of a COVID-19 vaccine after its second-stage clinical trials had been completed.

India: 1-day infections top total Chinese count

On Sept. 4, India reported 87,115 COVID-19 cases in a single day, exceeding China’s total count — 85,146 — since the virus erupted out of Wuhan in December 2019.

India’s COVID-19 cases three days later had topped 4.2 million, ranking second only to the US.

On Sept. 22, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed the closure of bars and restaurants after 10.00 p.m. and continuing measures for employees to work from home as the country was at a dangerous “turning point.”

The global death toll from COVID-19 exceeded 1 million as of Sept. 29.

US President Trump tests COVID-19 positive

The president of the US announced that he had tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Oct. 2.

On Oct. 3, the Indian tally of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 100,000

Trump was discharged from the hospital on Oct. 6 following the conclusion of his COVID-19 treatment.

On Oct. 15, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen left the EU leaders summit after one of her team members tested positive.

Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmes was taken into intensive care on Oct. 22 due to COVID-19.

Curfew in France

France began to institute a curfew for six days on Oct. 24 from 9.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. in 54 districts.

On Oct. 30, France announced that curfew measures would be in place across the country until Dec. 1.

80 million vote through mail in US

On Nov. 3, nearly 80 million voters in the US cast their ballots through the mail to vote in the 2020 presidential race.

The UK introduced quarantine measures on Nov. 5 as a result of the surging COVID-19 case numbers.

Cases of COVID-19 in the US topped 10 million as of Nov. 6.

On Nov. 7, the global count of virus cases exceeded 50 million.

Trials of a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German BioNTech, which is led by Turkish scientists Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, were concluded on Nov. 18 with has 95% effectiveness.

First registered vaccine

On Dec. 2, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine became the first registered COVID-19 jab in the world after the British health product regulation authority approved its mass use.

On Dec. 8, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was used on a 91-year-old woman, Margaret Keenan, for the first time following clinical trials.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted the emergency use of vaccines on Dec. 11.

The vaccine was used in the US for the first time on Dec. 14.

On the same day, a new variant of COVID-19 was first reported in the UK. The mutated virus is believed to transmit faster.

Russia on Dec. 15 announced a mass vaccination campaign across the country.

France’s President Macron contracts virus

On Dec. 17, French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for COVID-19.

The FDA permitted the use of US firm Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 19.

British premier Johnson imposed quarantine restrictions across the country after a new variant of COVID-19, which spreads much faster, was detected by British authorities.

On Dec. 21, Moderna’s vaccine was used in the US first time on a nurse, Mandy Delgado.

On the same day, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) permitted the use of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines in EU countries.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says no evidence suggested that the new COVID-19 variant was leading to serious health conditions or death.

On Dec. 27, the detection of the virus in a city near the Beijing International Airport triggered a state of emergency.

The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine started to be administered in EU member countries.

Since first appearing in China, COVID-19 transformed into a global outbreak after spreading to 191 countries and regions so far. The official global total of COVID-19 cases has topped 82.77 million and more than 1.8 million people have lost their lives. The pandemic continues to affect the world.

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