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A timeline of how the new coronavirus developed

DEC 31, 2019 ALARM RAISED

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is alerted by Chinese authorities of a string of pneumonia-like cases in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people. Patients are quarantined and work begins on identifying the origin of the pneumonia. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies a seafood market suspected to be at the centre of the outbreak. It is closed on Jan 1.

JAN 9, 2020 NEW CORONAVIRUS

The WHO says the outbreak in Wuhan was caused by a previously unknown type of coronavirus, a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like Sars. Fifty-nine people have been infected, of whom seven are in serious condition.

JAN 11 FIRST DEATH

Chinese health authorities say a person has died of the virus. They revise downwards the number of sick people to 41.

JAN 13-16 SPREADS BEYOND CHINA

On Jan 13, the virus spreads beyond China's borders for the first time with a case emerging in Thailand, according to the WHO. The victim is a Chinese woman diagnosed with mild pneumonia who was returning from a trip to Wuhan.

On Jan 15, China's health commission says no human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed so far, but the possibility "cannot be excluded".

The next day, a first case of the virus is confirmed in Japan in someone who had stayed in Wuhan in early January.

JAN 17 US CONTROLS

A second person, a 69-year-old man, dies in Wuhan, according to the authorities.

The same day, the CDC announces that it will begin screening passengers arriving from Wuhan at three US airports.

JAN 20 HUMAN-TO-HUMAN TRANSMISSION CONFIRMED

A sixth person is dead and nearly 300 are infected. Human-to-human transmission is "affirmative", a top Chinese expert on infectious diseases, Dr Zhong Nanshan, tells state broadcaster CCTV. - AFP

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