In December 2019, the virus that started the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan City, Hubei province of China, was identified on 10 January 2020 to be a novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV. A novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012, and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals but have not yet infected humans.
Although most of the patients in Wuhan reportedly had some link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, it was found that a number of infected patients did not report visiting this market.
Chinese authorities have reported that the number of cases tripled over the last weekend. The outbreak has spread to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, hundreds of miles from Wuhan, where the virus first surfaced. Thailand had also reported two cases, while Japan and South Korea reported one each, taking the global total to 222.
Additional cases in Wuhan city and exported cases, are expected to continue being reported. Considering national and global travel patterns, especially during the upcoming Chinese New Year season, more suspect cases are likely to be identified, with the possibility of cases being imported into Singapore.
Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
On 21 January, a high-level expert team of China's National Health Commission has confirmed people-to-people transmission of the 2019-nCoV and infections among medical staff. Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
The air by coughing and sneezing
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
After touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands
31 DEC, 2019: Sounding the Alarm
The World Health Organisation (WHO) was alerted on Dec 31, 2019, by the Chinese authorities of a string of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified a seafood market suspected to be at the source of the outbreak and it was closed on Jan 1, 2020.
9 JAN, 2020: New Coronavirus
On Jan 9 - WHO says that the outbreak in Wuhan was caused by an unknown type of coronavirus - a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like Sars.
To date 59 people have been infected.
Seven are in a serious condition.
11 JAN: First Life Lost
The Chinese health authorities confirms that one person has died of the virus on 11 January.
12 JAN: Viral Genetic Sequence Publicly Released
The World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) had been detected in association with the cluster, and the viral genetic sequence was publicly released by China.
13-16 JAN: Beyond Chinese Shores
On Jan 13 - The virus made its way to Thailand. The victim is a Chinese woman diagnosed with mild pneumonia returning from Wuhan.
On Jan 15 - China's health commission says no human-to-human transmission of the virus behind the Wuhan outbreak has been confirmed so far.
Jan 16 - The first case of the virus is confirmed in Japan. The patient had stayed in Wuhan in early January.
17 JAN: US Controls
On Jan 17 - A second person, a 69-year-old man, dies in Wuhan, confirms the authorities.
The same day, the US begins screening passengers arriving from Wuhan at three airports: San Francisco, New York's JFK and Los Angeles.
20 JAN: Human-to-Human Transmission: Affirmative
On Jan 20 – A third death and more than 100 new cases are announced in China, sparking concerns ahead of the annual Lunar New Year holiday which is also known as the largest annual human migration in the world.
The virus is present Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. More than 200 cases have been recorded.
The virus is also detected in South Korea in a Chinese person who has arrived from Wuhan.
China's President Xi Jinping declares that the virus must be "resolutely contained", in his first public comments on the outbreak.
22 JAN: WHO convenes an Emergency Meeting
On 22 January, The WHO convened an emergency committee meeting on 22 January and decided to await more information and delay declaring the virus spread an international emergency.
The China’s National Health Commission (NHC) authorised hospitals nationwide to quarantine any suspected carrier of the virus and their close contacts, even against their will.
22 JAN: Preventive Measures Adopted in Singapore
The Ministry of Health, Singapore has stepped up precautionary measures against the 2019-nCoV in anticipation of more travellers in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year holidays. The expanded measures include temperature screening for all travellers arriving from China at Changi Airport from 22 January.
A ministerial task force will also be set up to deal with the eventuality of the infection being imported to Singapore so as to mount a very quick response, depending on the development of situation.
23 JAN: Wuhan quarantined as China fights outbreak
The Chinese Central government also announced that it would halt outbound flights and trains, and shut its public-transportation system starting from 1000hrs on 23 January.