The COVID-19 global pandemic, caused by a strain of coronavirus, had infected over four lakh people as of 25 March 2020. More than 19,500 were reported to have died due to complications caused by the disease. China, where the disease is believed to have originated, Spain and Italy had seen the largest death toll due to the infection until 25 March 2020.

The Indian government imposed a nationwide lockdown on Monday, 24 March 2020, to contain the spread of the new coronavirus - at the time of announcing the three-week lockdown, there were 415 confirmed COVID-19 patients in India, with the maximum number of infected people in Maharashtra.

With things developing so quickly, it can become hard to keep a track of all the developments - scientific, global and national. However, If we don't learn from the past, we are bound to repeat our mistakes. This is where a timeline comes in handy, as a way to understand (a) how the pandemic is spreading and (b) what is being done to fight the disease. Read on to know more:

  1. COVID-19 Timeline

Here are some of the important dates which track the sequence of the disease’s spread internationally and in India:

  • 31 December 2019: China alerts the World Health Organization (WHO) to a number of cases of an unusual kind of pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, caused by an unknown virus.
  • 5 January 2020: China rules out a recurrence of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which claimed 770 lives in 2002-03.
  • 7 January 2020: WHO confirms a new virus has been identified - codenamed 2019-nCoV, it belonging to the same coronavirus family as SARS and even the common cold. The mode of transmission is similar, too: it spread after inhaling droplets from coughs and sneezes of an infected person, or through surface transmission like touching your face after touching an infected surface.
  • 11 January 2020: China reports its first death due to the new virus. The deceased is a 61-year-old man in Wuhan from the seafood market where the infection is thought to have originated. 
  • 13 January 2020: WHO reports the first case outside China, in Thailand.
  • 16 January 2020: The first case of infection is confirmed in Japan. Both patients had a travel history to Wuhan.
  • 17 January 2020: A second death is reported in Wuhan, along with the first cases of infection found in the USA, France, Nepal, Australia, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan.
  • 20 January 2020: A third death is reported in China due to the infection, along with the spread of the disease across China. The number of infected cases in China is at 200. There is also confirmation of human-to-human transmission, made by a Chinese expert.
  • 22 January 2020: Death toll in China jumps to 17, with 550 positive cases.
  • 23 January 2020: Wuhan placed under quarantine with travel restrictions put in place. A first death outside Hubei province is also reported, although the WHO maintains the outbreak is not a public emergency yet.
  • 27 January 2020: The death toll in China rises to 106 with over 4,500 positive cases.
  • 30 January 2020: WHO declares a global emergency. China death toll at 170, while India and the Philippines report their first cases. India's first case is in Kerala of a person returning from Wuhan.
  • 31 January 2020: Cases in China rise to 9,809. Russia, Spain, UK report first cases.
  • 1 February 2020: China death toll shoots up to 259. Cases reported in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Singapore, USA, UAE and Vietnam.
  • 2 February 2020: The second case is reported in Kerala in Alappuzha, of a student who had also returned from Wuhan. First death reported outside China, a man from Wuhan dies in the Philippines.
  • 3 February 2020: Another student is reported to be infected with the novel coronavirus in Kerala, taking India’s total tally to three.
  • 5 February 2020: China's death figures reach 563. Malaysia confirms its first case of human transmission and Europe's cases of this infection rise to 30.
  • 7 February 2020: Li Wenliang, the doctor who raised an alarm over coronavirus, dies of the infection.
  • 9 February 2020: China's death toll overtakes SARS toll in 2002-03, recording 811 deaths.
  • 11 February 2020: The WHO names the coronavirus COVID-19.
  • 12 February 2020: 175 found to be infected on cruise ship Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama.
  • 13 February 2020: Japan reports first death, while China's toll goes up to 1,300, with nearly 60,000 infected.
  • 14 February 2020: First case in Africa reported in Egypt. Europe records its first death in France due to the infection.
  • 15 February 2020: China's death toll reaches 1,500 with 66,492 infections. It is also revealed that on 3 February 2020, Chinese President made a speech, indicating the Chinese government knew about the virus much before the public alarm was raised.
  • 17 February 2020: China's toll is at 1,770 with 70,548 positive cases.
  • 18 February 2020: China's figure for new infections drops below 2,000 for the first time since January, with a total of 72,436 infections reported.
  • 19 February 2020: Iran reports the first two deaths in the country right after learning about the infection. China's death toll is at 2,004.
  • 20 February 2020: South Korea reports its first death due to the infection. China toll is at 2,118 but infections at 74,546, indicating the lowest infection rate in a month.
  • 22 February 2020: The largest spike in South Korea with 229 new cases while Italy reports the first two deaths, and Iran reports its fifth death. China's infection level drops to 397 new cases.
  • 23 February 2020: Italy reports its third death and suspends all major cultural and sports events.
  • 24 February 2020: The death toll in China rises to 2,595 with 77,262 confirmed cases. Italy reports its seventh death, as does South Korea with 833 cases. The infection spreads to Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and Oman. 
  • 25 February 2020: Iran spikes to 95 cases and 15 deaths, China reports drop, but South Korea rises to 977 and Italy 229.
  • 26 February 2020: Global infection numbers are at 82,000 with 2,800 deaths. Italy spikes to 650 new cases and 17 deaths in total.
  • 29 February 2020: South Korea reports a spike of 813 new cases in a day, total at 3,150 and 17 deaths. The number of cases in Iran jumps from 388 to 593 in 24 hours and reports 43 deaths.
  • 2 March 2020: India's Union Health Ministry reports two more cases, one from Delhi and one in Hyderabad. An Italian man in Jaipur also tests positive, taking the total figure to six.
  • 3 March 2020: Italy and Iran death toll at 77 each.
  • 4 March 2020: India reports 23 new cases, with 14 Italian tourists testing positive.
  • 7 March 2020: Over 102,000 are now infected in 90 countries with 3,500 deaths. China alone reports 80,651 total cases although numbers are declining in that country.
  • 10 March 2020: India's total number of cases rises to 50. Iran and Italy record the highest toll in a day. Iran reports 54 deaths in a day, while Italy records 168.
  • 11 March 2020: WHO declares the outbreak a pandemic.
  • 12 March 2020: India reports first death due to coronavirus, of a 76-year-old Karnataka man returning from Saudi Arabia. China reports 15 new cases, significantly lower than global rates, signalling stabilisation of the situation in the country.
  • 13 March 2020: Second death in India, of a 69-year-old woman from Delhi. India becomes the fifth country to isolate SARS-CoV-2 - the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • 15 March 2020: India’s total number of cases reaches 100. Spain's death toll is at 288 after recording over 100 deaths in a single day.
  • 16 March 2020: Iran figures surge to 853 deaths along with almost 15,000 infections.
  • 17 March 2020: India records its third death due to the new coronavirus, that of a 64-year-old in Mumbai. Largest increase in deaths recorded in Italy, with 345 deaths reported within 24 hours, taking the death toll in the country to 2,503.
  • 18 March 2020: No new cases of local infection reported in China, but Italy records 475 deaths in a single day, more than any other country, taking the toll to almost 3,000.
  • 19 March 2020: Italy overtakes China, with the number of deceased at 3,405. China's death toll stands at 3,245 at this time. Spain also reports a drastic increase in deaths to 767 in a day.
  • 20 March 2020: India’s number of positive cases rises to 250. Global death toll crosses 10,000. Spain alone reports more than 1,000 deaths. China doesn't report a new local case for the second day in a row.
  • 21 March 2020: A staggering 793 deaths recorded in a single day in Italy, taking the toll to 4,825 in the southern European country alone.
  • 22 March 2020: India observes “janta curfew” for 14 hours across the country. Global death toll crosses 13,000 and over 300,000 are infected. Countries across the world have announced lockdowns. In India, 75 districts go into lockdown for varying periods of time.
  • 23 March 2020: India imposes curfew orders in 75 districts in the country where positive cases and deaths have been recorded. Italy's death toll crosses 6,000, with 602 deaths in a day. Johns Hopkins University data reports 495 deaths in the United States of America.
  • 24 March 2020: India records nine deaths and 434 positive patients. Lockdown is extended to three weeks until 14 April 2020, and now applies across the country.
  • 25 March 2020: Spain's COVID-19 death toll overtakes China's, with 3,434 dead in Spain. China still has the highest number of confirmed patients in the world (81,661) and 3,163 dead.
  • 26 March 2020: Spain's death toll reaches 4,000, while Iran reports 2,389 new cases.
  • 27 March 2020: Countries enforce lockdowns with factories and oil refineries being asked to shut operations in view of the rising COVID-19 cases. UK prime minister Boris Johnson announces he has tested positive with COVID-19. News reports emerge that a 57-year-old woman may have been patient zero of COVID-19 as she had tested positive for the disease on 10 December last year.
  • 28 March 2020: Italy's death toll goes past 10,000.
  • 29 March 2020: Spain records highest jump in fatalities in a single day with 838 new deaths in a 24-hour period to become second-most affected country behind Italy.
  • 31 March 2020: Number of deaths in the US surge past China's death toll. 
  • 1 April 2020: UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres announces COVID-19 pandemic as the worst crisis in the world since World War II as the total cases go past the 1-million mark, with deaths going above 50,000.
  • 3 April 2020: India reports a jump of 1,965 new cases after the spread is traced back to a religious congregation in New Delhi.
  • 7 April 2020: Japan declares a state of emergency due to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
  • 8 April 2020: Wuhan allows people to leave the city for the first time in 76 days after the first cases emerged of the mysterious disease.
  • 10 April 2020: The UK reports the worst single-day rise in death figures, with 980 people dying in a span of 24 hours.
  • 11 April 2020: With 20,071 deaths, US crosses Italy's total death toll of 19,468. The country's total number of cases goes past the 500,000-mark.
  • 14 April 2020: India extends its nationwide lockdown till May 3. 
  • 15 April 2020: The International Monetary Fund announces the global economy would shrink by 3% this year, the biggest slowdown since the Great Depression in the 1930s.
  • 17 April 2020: Announcement of Ramadan prayers to be offered from home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • 21 April 2020: US President Donald Trump announces the country would suspend immigration. The United Nations World Food Programme warns of an acute food insecurity situation, which could double owing to the global pandemic.
  • 22 April 2020: The World Meteorological Organization announces that carbon dioxide emissions would drop by 6% this year, the highest since World War II.
  • 25 April 2020: The total number of worldwide deaths crosses the 200,000 mark.
  • 26 April 2020: Wuhan announces that all patients who were being treated for COVID-19 have recovered and had no cases for the first time in four months.
  • 28 April 2020: The total number of cases in US goes past 1 million, which constitutes a third of the total number of cases worldwide.
  • 29 April 2020: Remdesivir, the drug developed by Gilead Sciences of the US, proves to be effective against COVID-19 in a major study, reducing the recovery time by four days.
  • 30 April 2020: Brazil continues to report a dramatic rise in cases, with 7,218 new cases taking the total up to over 85,000 and deaths upwards of 5,900. Turkey's total number of cases rises to over 120,000.
  • 1 May 2020: Australia reports a total of 6,700 new cases. France's death toll goes up to 24,594 (lower than Spain's 24,824 deaths), while Germany's total cases reaches in excess of 160,000. Russia's total number of cases go above 114,000. South Korea reports new cases as well, but over 9,000 people have recovered out of the 10,774 total cases.
  • 2 May 2020: The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports a total of close to 40,000 cases in the continent and over 1,700 deaths.
  • 5 May 2020: UK records the highest death toll in Europe with over 30,000 people having succumbed to complications from the infection.
  • 10 May 2020: Both China and South Korea, two of the first countries to record cases of coronavirus, report new surge in cases after a month.
  • 16 May 2020: India's total number of cases goes past China with a total of just under 86,000 infections and over 2,700 deaths. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and New Delhi remain the states with the highest number of cases.
  • 21 May 2020: The total number of cases worldwide hits the 5-million mark based on data from Johns Hopkins University, with the USA, Russia and Brazil reporting the highest number of infections.
  • 23 May 2020: China reports no new cases for the first time since January. 
  • 25 May 2020: Japan lifts its countrywide emergency due to the pandemic to reopen the economy.
  • 26 May 2020: The number of global cases crosses the 5.5-million mark.
  • 27 May 2020: USA's total death toll goes past 100,000, the first country with such numbers of deaths. Spain goes into a nationwide mourning for 10 days after the death of more than 27,000 people in the country.
  • 29 May 2020: US President Donald Trump announces the country would terminating its relationship with the WHO alleging that the global health governing body hadn't made any reforms.
  • 31 May 2020: Cases continue to rise in South America, with the total death toll for the region going past the 50,000 mark.


Medicines / Products that contain COVID-19 Timeline


  1. World Health Organization [Internet]. Geneva (SUI): World Health Organization; Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
  2. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare: Government of India. [Internet] New Delhi, India. List of Districts reporting COVID-19 cases
  3. City of Boston: Boston Mayor's Office. [Internet] Boston, MA, USA. CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19) TIMELINE
  4. The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. [Internet] Hong Kong, China. Latest local situation of COVID-19
  5. Norwegian Government: Norwegian Government Security and Service Organisation (G.S.S.O.). [Internet] Oslo, Norway. Timeline: News from Norwegian Ministries about the Coronavirus disease COVID-19
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