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Earliest Days of the COVID19 Pandemic in China Part 2

On January 9, a 61-year-old man in Wuhan died from the virus, becoming the first known death.

On January 10, WHO's Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Infectious Hazards held its first meeting on the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On Jan. 11, Eddie Holmes, a professor at the University of Sydney, asked Zhang Yongzhen for permission to publish the viral genetic sequence on the website Holmes uploaded the sequence and tweeted, “All, an initial genome sequence of the coronavirus associated with the Wuhan outbreak is now available at” Zhang Yongzhen also notified the Chinese National Health Commission and warned them that the new virus resembled SARS and was likely infectious. Chinese CDC officials were so angry that the genetic sequence had been published they shut down his laboratory for rectification.

On January 12, the three Chinese government laboratories published their genetic sequence on GISAID. By this time, about 600 Chinese people had been infected.

On January 13, the Wuhan Commission on Health announced that “there were no new cases of pneumonia caused by new coronavirus infection in our city, one case was cured and discharged, and no new deaths were reported.”

On Jan. 13, WHO announced that Thailand virologists had confirmed that their case had an identical genetic sequence to the one published by the Chinese. This was the first proof that the novel virus had spread beyond China.

On Jan. 14, the head of China’s National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, gave a grim assessment of the situation to provincial health officials. He noted that clustered cases suggested that human-to-human transmission was possible. Chinese government officials reported to WHO that there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus identified in Wuhan. Thereafter, WHO tweeted there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus.” WHO’s Chief of Emergencies, Dr. Michael Ryan, told his colleagues it was time to apply more pressure on China, fearing a repeat of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) that started in China in 2002.

The next day, in a confidential teleconference, China’s top health official ordered the country to prepare for a pandemic, calling the outbreak the “most severe challenge since SARS in 2003.” Chinese CDC staff across the country began screening, isolating, and testing. Hundreds of cases were detected.

On Jan 15, Li Qun, head of China’s disease control emergency center, told state television that “the risk of sustained human-to-human transmission is low. Mr Xi Jinping did not officially warn the Chinese public of the outbreak until January 20. Two days later, the Chinese government admitted to a surge of 444 cases of strange pneumonia with 17 official deaths.

On January 23, with China’s Lunar New Year holiday beginning in two days, Beijing placed Wuhan into a lockdown. A travel ban was ordered, but only after five million people had already fled the metropolis for the holiday. That same day, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly described the spread of the new coronavirus in China as “limited.”

On January 26, Chinese authorities announced that the virus was spreading by person-to-person contact and that the spreaders were often asymptomatic. This warning should have been a red flag about the reliability of airport screening procedures worldwide. By this date, China had reported a total of 2,744 cases with 80 deaths.

On January 26, Chinese scientists published an article in Lancet that reviewed the first 41 patients who were hospitalized in Wuhan. Thirteen of the 41 cases had no link to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market that was originally considered to be the origin of the outbreak

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