Timeline: Covid-19 in China

Residents take nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 in Hulun Buir, in China's Inner Mongolia Region on Dec 1, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

December 2019

The earliest known cases of Covid-19 start exhibiting symptoms on Dec 8.

But whether the first known patient was a man surnamed Chen or an accountant, who was presented to be interviewed by World Health Organisation (WHO) investigators when they visited Wuhan in January 2021, has been the subject of dispute.

Both men had no links to a seafood market in the city where many of the early cases were detected.

Dec 31, 2019

Wuhan health authorities confirm they are battling an unknown virus and disclose that dozens working at a seafood wholesale market in the city are ill.

The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market is ordered to close as scientists conduct investigations.

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Jan 11, 2020

China reports its first Covid-19 death, just ahead of the Chinese New Year travel season in the country which is often seen as the world's largest annual human migration.

Across the country, people start stockpiling surgical masks, sanitiser and cold medicine, emptying shop shelves.

Chinese overseas, including in Singapore, follow suit, and send the products home.

Jan 23, 2020

The authorities order an overnight lockdown in Wuhan, effective some 10 hours after the announcement.

This gives time for some 10,000 people to leave the city and Hubei province, which has already reported a spike in cases.

Jan 30, 2020

As the number of cases in China mounts, reaching the thousands, the WHO declares a "public health emergency of international concern".

Feb 11, 2020

To avoid stigmatising people, places or animals linked to the pandemic, the novel coronavirus is named Covid-19, an abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019.

March 29, 2020

As cases continue to mount globally, China announces the closure of its borders in a bid to contain the virus.

Three weeks earlier, the authorities had ordered 14 days of mandatory quarantine for anyone entering the country.

A woman delivering food to a resident over a barrier in Wuhan on March 16, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

April 8, 2020

After 72 days, the lockdown in Wuhan is lifted.

The response to the virus will be repeated multiple times - albeit with slight modification - as the authorities refine the scale of the lockdowns to ensure minimal economic disruption, often confining restrictions to just districts or even housing compounds.

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Tens of thousands are expected to leave Wuhan via rail on Wednesday (April 8), the first day major transport links reopened in the city.

June 2020

After nearly two months of no new local infections, a new cluster shows up in a wholesale market in the capital, Beijing. It spreads to several districts across the city, putting the capital on edge for several weeks.

September 2020

President Xi Jinping hails China's success in fighting Covid-19 as cases surge worldwide.

In an elaborate ceremony at the cavernous Great Hall of the People, Mr Xi hands out awards to those who played an important role in fighting the pandemic, including respiratory diseases expert Zhong Nanshan and vaccine researcher Chen Wei.

A medical worker administers a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Hefei, Anhui province, China on Dec 29, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

December 2020

After testing Covid-19 vaccines under an emergency use programme, China begins rolling out a mass vaccination programme.

January 2021

Researchers picked by the WHO visit Wuhan for a virus origins investigation.

The issue has become increasingly politicised, with top government officials from China and the United States blaming the other side for being the source of the virus.

Security personnel keep watch outside Wuhan Institute of Virology on Feb 3, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

March 30, 2021

The WHO origins study, done in collaboration with Chinese scientists, is released.

It is inconclusive on whether the virus originated at the seafood market or had been leaked from a lab.

May 2021

Sinopharm's vaccine is added to the WHO's vaccine emergency use list, paving the way for it to be recognised internationally. The Sinovac vaccine follows shortly thereafter.

August 2021

A resurgence of cases triggers domestic travel restrictions across China.

After a worker at Nanjing airport is infected with the new and more infectious Delta variant, cases spread to at least 14 provinces and regions during the summer holiday season.

September 2021

China says it has vaccinated more than a billion people. To date, 2.6 billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been dispensed.

Dec 13, 2021

China reports its first case of the Omicron variant in the port city of Tianjin, an hour's drive from Beijing.

The authorities say the man who tested positive for the variant exhibited no symptoms and was quarantined upon arrival. They did not say where he came from.

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