The spread of the novel coronavirus

Jan 20 - Feb 20, 2020

By Daniel Fourquet

GEOG-575: Lab 1

March 1, 2020

The outbreak began in December 2019 in Wuhan...

...the provincial capitol of Hubei, China, when Chinese authorities informed the World Health Organization of 44 mysterious cases of pneumonia. The patients were quickly quarantined as health authorities worked to trace the origins of the illness. The Chinese National Health Commission found that the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan was a common link between most of the patients. The market was closed for disinfection. By January 7, researchers discovered that the illness was caused by a previously undiscovered coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses that can range from mild colds to severe illnesses like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The WHO named the newly discovered coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes COVID-19.

Despite early attempts to limit the disease with airport screenings and travel restrictions, COVID-19 began to spread throughout China as well as Thailand, Japan, and South Korea. By January 20, 3 of the 282 patients with the disease had died, leading to President Xi Jinping’s announcement that the disease must be contained. All travel to and from several cities in Hubei were banned. The Chinese government took severe actions to stop the spread of the disease, including building temporary hospitals to treat patients in isolation.

The WHO began to publish daily situation reports on January 20th. The interactive map below shows the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the course of the first month of situation reports. Clicking through the dates in the map, it is visually clear that the extreme efforts to contain the virus within Hubei Province have been partially successful - the majority of confirmed cases have remained there.

Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 - , 2020

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Region Details


On January 20, Hubei had 258 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which accounted for X% of the # total cases in the world.


Leaflet | Map tiles by Stamen Design, CC BY 3.0 — Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

COVID-19 Data | WHO Situation Reports, GlobalCitizen Wuhan Coronavirus Data

While Chinese efforts to contain the virus have slowed it down, the disease has spread beyond its borders. As of early March, there are large outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, and Iran and new cases are reported around the world daily. With a mortality rate of roughly 2% (20 times that of the flu), it is important that COVID-19 is taken seriously. Researchers are working on a vaccine, but in the meantime there are simple and familiar measures we as individuals can take to limit the spread of COVID-19 - wash your hands with soap and water frequently, cover your face when you cough, and stay home from work when you’re ill.


WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

devex: COVID-19 — a timeline of the coronavirus outbreak

Pharmaceutical Technology: Coronavirus: A timeline of how the deadly Covid-19 outbreak is evolving

Virus Image

Wikipedia: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

Wuhan Map

Map data by Natural Earth