Why it matters: A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited.
This timeline, compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post and other sources, shows that China's cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks.
Dec. 10: Wei Guixian, one of the earliest known coronavirus patients, starts feeling ill.
Dec. 16: Patient admitted to Wuhan Central Hospital with infection in both lungs but resistant to anti-flu drugs. Staff later learned he worked at a wildlife market connected to the outbreak.
Dec. 27: Wuhan health officials are told that a new coronavirus is causing the illness.
Jan. 1: Wuhan Public Security Bureau brings in for questioning eight doctors who had posted information about the illness on WeChat.
Jan. 2: Chinese researchers map the new coronavirus' complete genetic information. This information is not made public until Jan. 9.
Jan. 7: Xi Jinping becomes involved in the response.
Jan. 9: China announces it has mapped the coronavirus genome.
Jan. 11-17: Important prescheduled CCP meeting held in Wuhan. During that time, the Wuhan Health Commission insists there are no new cases.
Jan. 13: First coronavirus case reported in Thailand, the first known case outside China.
Jan. 14: WHO announces Chinese authorities have seen "no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus."
Jan. 15: The patient who becomes the first confirmed U.S. case leaves Wuhan and arrives in the U.S., carrying the coronavirus.
Jan. 19: Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan.
Jan. 23: Wuhan and three other cities are put on lockdown. Right around this time, approximately 5 million people leave the city without being screened for the illness.
Jan. 24-30: China celebrates the Lunar New Year holiday. Hundreds of millions of people are in transit around the country as they visit relatives.
Jan. 24: China extends the lockdown to cover 36 million people and starts to rapidly build a new hospital in Wuhan. From this point, very strict measures continue to be implemented around the country for the rest of the epidemic.
The bottom line: China is now trying to create a narrative that it's an example of how to handle this crisis when in fact its early actions led to the virus spreading around the globe.
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