It took over three months to reach the first 1,00,000 confirmed cases, and only 12 days to reach the next 1,00,000.


It was on 31 December 2019 that the WHO (World Health Organization) China Country Office was first informed of cases of “pneumonia” (as COVID-19 was referred to then) which was detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. From 31 December 2019 through 3 January 2020, a total of 44 case-patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology were reported to WHO by the national authorities in China.

When the WHO came out with its first situation report on the coronavirus on 20 January, the virus was present in four countries—China, Japan, Thailand and Korea.

The US became the fifth country to be added on that list on 23 January. At that time, the WHO’s assessment of the risk of this event of spreading was “high” at the global level.

The next day on 24 January, two more countries confirmed Covid patients inside their borders—Singapore and Vietnam.

On 25 January, France, Australia and Nepal joined the list, while Malaysia became the 11th country to have this virus on 26 January. Canada became the 12th country when the WHO released its report on 27 January. Germany, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, too, confirmed the presence of the virus in their country on 28 January.

United Arab Emirates became the 16th country to confirm the infection on 29 January.

India, Philippines  and Finland entered the dubious list on the 30 January when the WHO published its 10th situational report on this.

It was on this day that WHO recommended that the interim name of the disease causing the current outbreak should be “2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease” (where “n” is for novel and “CoV” is for coronavirus). By then, the confirmed cases were 7,181 that included 170 deaths. On 31 January, Italy was confirmed as the 20th country whose borders were breached by this virus.

Secondary transmission confirmed

It was on 1 February that the WHO had first indicated that the disease had started spreading through secondary transmission. In its 12th situation report, the WHO said: “Of the 132 cases identified outside China, 14 were due to secondary transmission outside China. Of the remaining cases, travel history is available for 101 of them: all 101 had travelled to China in the 14 days before illness onset.”

On this day, United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden and Russia too entered this list after which the disease was now present in 24 countries.

No new country reported any patient suffering from COVID-19 on 2 February, 3 February, and 4 February which led to a sense of ease among the people following the outbreak that it was now going to subside.

However, Belgium became the 25th country to report on 5 February that it had a patient. Till that time, the assessment of the WHO remained at “High”.

The lull

No new country was added to the list on 6, 7, 8 ,9, 10,11,12,13 and 14 February as 15 laboratories across the world were engaged in finding more about the COVID-19, including the National Institute of Virology, India. At that time, the confirmed cases in India were three. The WHO report that was published on 13 February gave an interesting insight as to how the virus had spread in some countries.

20 individuals from six countries—United Kingdom (6), France (5), Malaysia (3), Singapore (3), Republic of Korea (2), Spain (1)—were all part of a conference held in Singapore between 20 and 22 January 2020 after which they went to France on a ski-trip.

However, after a lull of 9 days, a new patient was discovered in Egypt on 15 February that broke the hope that the virus spread had been contained. It was the first case on the African sub-continent. The confirmed case in India remained at three.

No patient was found in any country on 16, 17, 18, 19 of February which marked the third such “lull days” where no patient was discovered in any new country for more than two days.

Iran reports its first patient

On 20 February, Iran reported its first patient. No new country reported a COVID-19 patient on 21 February.

However, on 22 February, Israel and Lebanon became the 28th and 29th country to have the virus among its people. There was again a “lull” on 23 February with no new country entering the list. Kuwait became the 30th country to report the presence of the virus on 24 February, while Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, and Oman were added to the list on 25 February. Algeria, Austria, Croatia, and Switzerland reported COVID-19 patients in their country on 26 February, bringing the total number of affected countries to 38.

Virus breaches borders of nine countries

The biggest addition to this list took place the next day, on 27 February, when Brazil, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, and North Macedonia (total nine countries) reported the first COVID-19 patient in the country, effectively raising the infected country list to 47. Interestingly, Pakistan, which sees more travel movement of Chinese nationals to and fro from the country, reported its first case nearly 27 days after India reported it.

On 28 February, the list of effected countries crossed 50 with five new countries— Belarus, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand and Nigeria—reporting cases of COVID-19.

As a result of this, the WHO, it its 39th situation report on the virus, increased the assessment of the risk of spread from “high” to “very high” at the global level, the same level at which it has classified the disease in China all through these times.

On the last day of February, Mexico and San Marino, too, confirmed about the presence of COVID-19 infected patients in their country. Hence, by the time March started, 54 countries were affected by COVID-19 since 20 January when the WHO had first come out it first situation report on this. In less than 40 days, it had engulfed almost 50 countries.

On 1 March, five more countries—Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Ireland, Monaco and Qatar—confirmed the presence of the virus.

The next day, on 2 March, six countries—Armenia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Luxembourg, Iceland, and Indonesia—discovered the presence of COVID-19 patient inside their borders.

Eight new countries—Andorra, Jordan, Latvia, Morocco, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Tunisia—were added to the list on 3 March. By now, 73 countries were facing this virus spread. On the same date, two more patients were confirmed in India, almost 32 days after the first patients was found on 30 January.

On 4 March, four more countries—Argentina, Chile, Poland and Ukraine—too reported the presence of COVID 19. India’s confirmed case too increased by one. India had now total six confirmed cases.

India reports its ­biggest jump

The next day, 5 March, five countries—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gibraltar, Hungary, Slovenia and “occupied” Palestinian territory reported COVID-19. It was on this day that India reported it biggest jump of confirmed cases—23 new patients—bringing the total number of infected to 29.

On 6 March, Bhutan, Cameroon, Serbia and South Africa reported the presence of COVID-19 in their country, bringing the total number of countries infected by it to 86.

In India, one more case was confirmed on the same date. 7 March saw the virus being confirmed from five more countries—Colombia, Vatican, Peru, Serbia and Togo. One new case was confirmed in India too, raising the number of affected to 31. On 8 March, which was the 67th day of WHO first being informed of this “pneumonia”, saw the addition of eight new countries in this list—Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Faroe Islands, French Guiana, Maldives, Malta, Martinique and Republic of Moldova. India saw the addition of three new confirmed cases.

Bangladesh, Albania and Paraguay, too, confirmed the presence of this virus on 9 March. While the confirmed cases of the same in India rose to 43 after 9 new cases were confirmed.

When WHO presented its 50th situation report on COVID-19 on 10 March, five more countries—Brunei, Mongolia, Cyprus, Guernsey (a British dependency) and Panama—confirmed the presence of the said virus on their land. It was on this day that the WHO stated that the threat of a pandemic has become very real. India added one more confirmed case in this list. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country has reached 283, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday. Of the 283, 244 are Indian nationals, while 39 are foreigners. Twenty-three have recovered and have been discharged from hospital, while one person has migrated to another country. Four casualties have been reported in India so far. The data was put out by the Health Ministry at 4:45 p.m.

WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic

On 11 March, four more countries—Bolivia, Jamaica, Burkina Faso and Democratic Republic of the Congo—confirmed cases of COVID-19 while in India, 16 more cases were confirmed.

On this day, COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO. A pandemic is used to describe a disease that has spread across many countries and affects a large number of people, unlike an epidemic which is localised.

12 March saw the addition of another list of four countries—French Polynesia, Turkey, Honduras and Ivory Coast—confirming the presence of COVID-19. In India, 13 more cases were confirmed on this date bringing the total number of affected to 73. On 13 March, five new territories—Jersey, Reunion, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Cuba and Guyana—were added to the list of affected countries bringing the total affected country to 122. India, meanwhile, saw only one new confirmed case while it saw its first death.

On 14 March, 12 new countries, on 15 March nine new countries and four new countries on 16 March confirmed COVID-19 respectively, bringing the number of total affected countries to 150. Eight new cases were confirmed in India on 14 March, 25 cases on 15 March, 7 cases on 16 March, while one more person died bringing the total number of those who have died in India due to COVID-19 to two.

Eight new countries discovered COVID-19 inside their borders on 17 March, while 23 new cases were confirmed in India and one death. 18 March saw the addition of one more country to this now 155 plus strong list.

18 March saw the addition of seven new countries reported cases of COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases worldwide has exceeded 200,000. It took over three months to reach the first 1,00,000 confirmed cases, and only 12 days to reach the next 1,00,000.

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