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COVID-19 pandemic: a timeline of global and local response

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Stephen Roan
Stephen Matthew S. Roan is a Global Affairs Columnist at Politixxx Today. He previously served as Editor-in-Chief of The Bedan Roar, the official student publication of San Beda University-Rizal SHS. He was also a former Vice-President of the Bedan Model United Nations and a Student Council Board Member. With a keen interest in global politics and affairs, and as an advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, he is now part of a youth-led network in the Asia-Pacific - the 2030 Youth Force in the Philippines - which helps realize the 2030 Agenda. He is also pursuing his undergraduate studies at De La Salle University-Manila under the Bachelor of Arts in International Studies Major in American Studies degree program. You may reach him through his email: stephenmatthewroan@yahoo.com.

The World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations agency for international public health, has declared a pandemic over a novel illness known as Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The disease is caused by a virus called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which stems from horseshoe bats, similar to the virus that caused the SARS-2003 pandemic.

The illness has spread to 213 countries and territories around the world, sickened more than 24 million individuals and killed more than 830,000 patients, as of writing.

Below is a brief timeline on the events:

December 31, 2019

Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) of an unusual outbreak of pneumonia cases. The government of Wuhan, China confirmed that they have been treating dozens of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause. Some of those infected worked at Huanan Seafood Market where they contracted the disease from the live and exotic animals sold in the wet market.

January 02, 2020

Patients of the unusual pneumonia were confirmed to have contracted a new strain of coronavirus, later known as SARS-CoV-2, where some of the patients had direct exposure to Huanan Seafood Market.

January 05

Officials ruled out the possibility that the newly emerging disease was a recurrence of the previous SARS pandemic that also originated from China in 2003.

January 07

The WHO initially named the novel virus as 2019-nCoV.

January 11

China reported its first fatality due to the 2019-nCoV. The news that the novel disease was deadly broke out to the public before one of China’s biggest holidays where hundreds of millions of people travel across the country.

January 12

First suspected case of coronavirus in the Philippines reported from a 5 y/o boy in Cebu.

January 13

The first case outside China was reported in Thailand along with Japan, South Korea, and the United States reporting their first cases soon after.

January 30

The WHO declared the novel coronavirus outbreak as a “public health emergency of international concern” and warned travelers to avoid China. WHO also warned that the virus may spread to countries with weaker health systems.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also reported that the country has recorded its first case of coronavirus disease with a 38-year-old Chinese national from Wuhan, China who arrived at the Philippines via Hong Kong.

January 31

Vice President Leni Robredo urged President Duterte to ban all travelers coming from Mainland China amid confirmation that the Philippines has recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus. However, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go announced that President Duterte has imposed a ban only on travelers coming from Hubei, China – province where Wuhan is located.

February 02

The first coronavirus-related death outside China was reported in the Philippines with a 44-year-old male Chinese national from Wuhan, a companion of the first confirmed case in the country.

President Duterte has also widened the travel ban to now include travellers from Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau. The China-wide travel ban came just two days after VP Robredo’s suggestion and President Duterte’s imposition of a travel ban on travellers from Hubei, China.

February 07

HERO’S TRIBUTE. Social media flooded with messages of sympathy as Chinese whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang died with the coronavirus disease. | Photo via Reuters

Li Wenliang, a Chinese doctor who first warned the authorities about the danger posed by the novel virus, succumbs from the disease.

February 11

WHO names the deadly disease as Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

February 14

France announces first coronavirus death in Europe.

February 23

Corona virus cases surge in Italy, Europe face first major outbreak.

March 06

First case of local transmission of COVID-19 reported in the country, after a month of reporting no new cases.

March 07

Department of Health (DOH) has raised “Code Red Sub-Level 1” after the first case of local transmission of COVID-19 has ben reported in the country.

March 09

President Duterte declares a public health emergency.

March 11

PANDEMIC DECLARED. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (middle) has announced to the public that the novel coronavirus is now characterized as a pandemic. | Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/ AFP via Getty Images

After infecting more than 120,000 people in more than 100 countries, the WHO has declared the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, with its director-general citing the need to address “the alarming levels of spread and severity and alarming levels of inaction.”

March 12


Vice President Leni Robredo addressed the public on COVID-19 concerns. VP Leni urged companies to adapt to the situation by implementing work-from-home set-ups and appealed to the government to prioritize protecting the vulnerable sectors amid the pandemic.

President Duterte also raised the country to “Code Red Sub-Level 2” and placed the National Capital Region in a partial lockdown. Domestic travel trough land, sea, and air to and from Manila has been suspended as well to arrest the spread of the coronavirus.

March 13

Philippines bans arrival of travellers coming from all countries with local coronavirus transmission. WHO also names Europe as the new epicenter of coronavirus pandemic.

March 16

LUZON ON LOCKDOWN. President Duterte announces the expansion of the COVID_19 lockdown to the entire island of Luzon.

President Duterte expands lockdown, placing the entire Luzon under an “enhanced community quarantine” or a total lockdown. Domestic travel trough land, sea, and air to and from Luzon has been suspended as well.

March 17

The Health Department has confirmed the occurrence of community transmission of COVID-19 in the Philippines. President Duterte also signed Proclamation No. 929 placing the entire country under the state of calamity.

March 25

JOINT SESSION. Congress pass the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which grants President Duterte additional emergency powers to address the COVID-19 in the country. | Photo via PTV News.

A Joint-Congress Session grants President Duterte with additional emergency powers through Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, allowing the president to divert funds for coronavirus response.

April 02

Global cases of COVID-19 reach 1 million mark affecting 171 countries.

April 07

President Duterte extends enhanced community quarantine until April 30.

April 15

Philippines starts COVID-19 mass testing.

April 17

Local experts suggest that the country is doing better in “flattening the curve.” Global deaths have also reached 150,000.

April 24

President Duterte extends the strictest lockdown on the nation’s capital until May 15.

April 26

Global deaths climb to 200,000, only nine days after reaching 150,000 mark.

April 30

Global recoveries reaches the 1,000,000 mark.

May 01


Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo reports P122 million worth of assistance for frontliners and communities in need thru OVP’s projects and initiatives. The assistance fund is the result of the donation drive spearheaded by the OVP and its private partners and donors.

May 02

Africa CDC confirms that the continent has recorded 40,000 cases in 53 African countries.

May 06

Coronavirus cases in the Philippines reach 10,000. International Council of Nurses report 90,000 nurses affected with COVID-19.

May 10

A total of about 4 million cases have been recorded globally.

May 16

IATF eases Metro Manila and neighboring provinces into modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

May 21

UN launches Verified initiative to combat COVID-19 misinformation.

May 26

BLACK LIVES MATTER. Americans protest in front of US President Donald Trump’s New York ‘Trump Tower’ during the worldwide campaign for racial equality. | Photo via Mark Clennon/Time.

George Floyd protests begin in Minneapolis, starting from social media campaigns to protests across the country and around the world.         

May 31

Enhanced community quarantine in Luzon ends, transitions to GQC and MGCQ.

June 09

Office of the Vice President launch Bayanihan Drive for Distance Learning.

June 16

ECQ reimposed in Cebu City due to the sudden increase in cases.

June 27

Global number of COVID-19 cases climb to 10 million with 500,000 deaths.  

June 30

WE BEAT UP. Presidential Spokesperson congratulate Filipinos defeating UP’s prediction of number of cases by end of June.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque celebrates ‘defeat’ of University of the Philippines’ prediction of 40,000 cases by June 30 as the country’s cases exceed only 35,000. Data from the Health Department, however, states that there are more than 40,000 individuals who have tested positive for the virus, but are still experiencing backlog in verification and confirmation.

July 07

United States surpasses 3 million cases.

July 08

PH cases reach 50,000 with at least 1,000 expired patients.

July 10

WHO reports a record of 228,102 new cases in 24 hours.

July 14

Metro Manila classified as “danger zone” as several hospitals reach full capacity.

July 24

USA surpasses 4 million cases, 16 days after reaching 3 million mark.

July 31

Approximately 38,000 patients ‘mass recover’ as part of DOH’s Oplan Recovery.

August 02

As PH cases reach 100,000 and multiple medical practitioners testing positive for the virus, Philippine College of Physicians and other medical frontliners plead for a ‘time out’ and revert back Metro Manila to a two-week ECQ.

August 04

President Duterte reverts Metro Manila and neighboring provinces to MECQ, VP Leni Robredo resumes her office’s services to frontliners. State insurance company PhilHealth battles P15B corruption scandal.

August 11

SPUTNIK V. Russia announces the approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine.

Russia announces approval of Sputnik V COVID-19 Vaccine, but medical experts warn that the vaccine is still under review for clinical trials.

August 19

PH’s capital, neighboring provinces ease to MGCQ, rest of the country remains in GCQ.  

Updated as of August 29.

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