Table 1 Highlights of key events in COVID-19

From: When COVID-19 meets centralized, personalized power

DateEventTotal confirmed cases worldwide
12 December 2019First case of the virus was detected in Wuhan.
30 December 2019Li Wenliang and several other medical personnel warned others about a SARS-like virus.
31 December 2019China reported instances of an unknown virus to the WHO.
3 January 2020Local police made Dr Li sign an apology letter for spreading rumours.
7 January 2020Chinese authorities confirmed that the virus is a novel coronavirus. The WHO named it 2019-nCoV.
7 January 2020President Xi reported that on this day, “I gave instructions on controlling the outbreak.”
13 January 2020WHO reported first case of virus outside of China, in Thailand.
18 January 2020Unaware of an outbreak, Wuhan residents held a banquet for 10,000 families.
19 January 2020Beijing sends epidemiologists to Wuhan.
19 January 2020Dr Zhong Nanshan, a respected veteran who fought SARS, announced that the virus is transmissible between people.
21 January 2020The People’s Daily mentioned the epidemic for the first time.
22 January 2020Xi said that, on this day, “I explicitly ordered Hubei province to stop the flow of people outward.”282
23 January 2020Wuhan was placed on partial lockdown. Flights and transport in and out of the city were suspended.314
27 January 2020Wuhan’s mayor gave a livestreamed interview on CCTV, indicating that he was not authorized to publicize the outbreak.2,798
28 January 2020During his meeting with the director-general of the WHO, Xi said, “I am personally directing control efforts.” Then he disappeared from public view for 6 days.4,593
3 February 2020Xi delivered an internal speech to the Politburo Standing Committee, detailing his actions since 7 January.17,391
5 February 2020Xi reappeared in public view for a diplomatic meeting.24,544
7 February 2020Whistle-blower Dr Li died from the virus, unleashing a firestorm of outrage among Chinese netizens.31,481
13 February 2020Beijing removed and replaced Hubei’s provincial party chief and Wuhan’s city party chief.46,997
15 February 2020The Party magazine Qiushi published Xi’s internal speech on 3 February.50,580
1 March 2020Regulators imposed stringent new rules on Internet content in an already-controlled cyberspace.87,137
11 March 2020WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic.118,319
  1. Source: Total confirmed cases are reported by the WHO, starting on 22 January 2020, at