from the Global Times 

*This chronology is partially based on one compiled by the Daily Wire, to which we have added additional events and links.

November 17 (2019): The first case of what was later identified as COVID-19 was detected in Wuhan.

December 10: 57-year-old Wei Guixian, a merchant in the seafood section of the Wuhan Animal Market, reported sick with what were later identified as COVID-19 symptoms.

December 26: Wuhan patients data were sent to several Chinese genomics companies, which were supposed to detect new viruses. Reportedly, at least one of these companies was ordered to stop the tests and destroy the material.

December 27: Zhang Jixian, a doctor from Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, told China’s health authorities that he believed the disease was caused by a new coronavirus.

December 31: Chinese officials told the Country Office in China of the World Health Organization (WHO) that cases of a “new form of pneumonia” had been reported in Wuhan. At the same time, CCP Internet censorship started preventing searches for “Wuhan Unknown Pneumonia,” “SARS Variation,” “Wuhan Animal Market,” and similar.

January 1 (2020): Eight doctors who had alerted about an epidemics caused by a new coronavirus in Wuhan, including Dr. Li Wenliang (1986-2020), who will later die of the disease, were detained and questioned by the CCP police for “spreading false statements.” Li was forced to sign a letter of apology.

January 1: The Hubei Health Commission ordered all genomics companies that had been contacted on December 26 to stop their tests and destroy the materials they received (which would have proved that data about the virus were already available from late December).

January 1: Authorities closed the Wuhan Animal Market, without swabbing individual animals and their cages and without drawing blood from everyone working there or otherwise checking who might have been infected.

January 3: China’s National Health Commission issued a national gag order, preventing all medical institutions in the country to disclose information about the disease.

January 5: Professor Zhang Yongzhen of the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center provided the genomic sequence of the virus to Chinese authorities.

January 5: Wuhan Municipal Health Commission stopped releasing daily updates on new cases of the disease.

January 9: WHO released a statement about the situation in Wuhan, suggesting a new coronavirus was at work.

January 10: China Central Television broadcasted a statement by Wang Guangfa, a prominent government medical expert, stating that the “Wuhan pneumonia” was “under control” and mostly a “mild condition” (11 days later, Wang reportedly tested positive himself)

January 11: The Shanghai laboratory of Professor Zhang Yongzhen, who had provided the genomic sequence of the virus, was shut down for “rectification” by the Shanghai Health Commission, after Zhang had posted his data online to put them at the disposal of the international scientific community. Only after he did it (and was consequently punished), China’s National Health Commission announced it would share the sequence (which was by then already online) with the WHO.

January 12: The National Health Commission shared the virus genomic information with the WHO for the first time. It had been available from January 5.

January 14: WHO (rather than the Chinese authorities) advanced the hypothesis that the virus was spreading through human-to-human transmission.

January 14: Journalists trying to cover the outbreak at Wuhan’s Jinyintan Hospital were stopped by the CCP police, and their cameras and phones were confiscated.

January 15: China answered the WHO through a statement by Dr. Li Qun, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Center, who claimed that only a “low” risk of human-to-human transmission of the virus had been detected.

January 17: The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission resumed its daily updates on new cases of the coronavirus, which had been stopped on January 5.

January 18: Despite the virus outbreak, the city of Wuhan hosted a potluck banquet attended by more than 40,000 families, so the city could apply for a Guinness world record for most dishes served at an event. Wuhan authorities also announced they were distributing 200,000 free tickets to residents for festival activities during the Lunar New Year holiday.

January 20: Dr. Zhong Nanshan, an authority on SARS said in a TV interview that person-to-person transmission was a fact, and that authorities had been negligent in disclosing information about the virus.

January 20: Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang admitted that he had not released all the information the city had on the virus, but said he was just following “Beijing rules.”

January 23: The lockdown of Wuhan was finally ordered, but only after about 5 million people had already left the city without being tested.

February 6: President Xi Jinping personally ordered increased censorship of the Internet on all news about the virus, and to close the WeChat accounts of those criticizing the authorities.

February 6: Attorney and “citizen journalist” Chen Qiushi, who had posted on the Internet footage showing overcrowded hospitals and panicking families in Wuhan, “disappeared.”

February 7: Dr. Li Wenliang, the doctor who had sounded the alarm on the new coronavirus (and had been detained for this), died of coronavirus. A debate followed whether Li, who had joined a Christian chat room, had in fact converted to Christianity.

February 9: Another “citizen journalist” who had posted unauthorized videos on the epidemics, Fang Bin, “disappeared” in Wuhan.

February 15: President Xi Jinping made censorship on the Internet on anything concerning the virus even stricter.

February 15: Human rights activist Xu Zhiyong, who had publicly asked President Xi Jinping to apologize for his cover-ups about the virus and resign, was arrested.

February 16: Academic Xu Zhangrun was put under house arrest and banned from using the Internet after publishing an essay claiming that, “The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance.”

February 16: A paper posted by two Chinese scientists, Dr. Botao Xiao from South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, and Dr. Lei Xiao, from Wuhan University of Science and Technology, on the international scholarly database Research Gate, suggesting that the virus may have originated from bats from two Wuhan laboratories (rather than from wild bats), “disappeared” from ResearchGate.

February 19: China expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters who were covering the epidemics.

February 26: The State press agency Xinhua announced the publication of a book by the CCP’s Central Propaganda Department, which will be translated in six languages and explain how President Xi Jinping’s “outstanding leadership as a great power leader” defeated the virus.

March 8: Reportedly, Chinese embassies throughout the world were instructed to promote the theory that the virus did not originate in China.

March 12: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian publicly stated that the virus did not originate in Wuhan, nor in China, but came from the United States through American soldiers who participated in the Wuhan Military Games in October.

March 14: Chinese tycoon Ren Zhiqiang “disappeared” in Beijing after posting critical remarks on how President Xi Jinping handled the coronavirus crisis.

March 18: China announced that another 13 journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal will be expelled.

March 19: Wuhan Public Security apologized to the family of Dr Li Wenliang, admitting his detention was “inappropriate” and stating that two officers who “mishandled” the case had been disciplined.

March 22: The CCP-controlled Global Times, misquoting a statement by Italian pharmacologist Giuseppe Remuzzi, claimed that the virus did not originate in China (nor in the United States) but in Italy.

Massimo Introvigne

Massimo Introvigne is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new...