The global health authority made this call a little late, according to experts — the virus, which was first reported to the organization just over 100 days ago, had already shown the ability to kill and spread between people, and had been found in several countries.
Back when the WHO made that declaration on March 11, there were only around 128,000 confirmed cases worldwide. Canada had only reported 103 cases.
A lot has happened in a month. Here’s a look at some of the big developments.
March 11 – Pandemic declared
“We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming spread and severity, and the alarming levels of inaction,” said WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during his announcement.
The WHO expected the COVID-19 outbreak to grow, and decided to call it a pandemic for this reason, he said.
Coronavirus outbreak: WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic
Declaring a pandemic only draws attention to the problem, though — the WHO can’t actually compel countries to take action based on this declaration.
They took action anyway.
March 12 – Ontario orders school closures
On March 12, Ontario premier Doug Ford announced that public schools in the province would shut down for three weeks. This order was later extended.
March 13 – Europe becomes the epicentre of the outbreak
COVID-19 may have started in China, but it quickly spread elsewhere. By March 13, the WHO was saying that Europe was now the epicentre. Massive outbreaks in Italy and Spain contributed to the shift.
WHO declares Europe ‘epicentre’ of COVID-19 pandemic
March 13 – National emergency declared in U.S.
U.S. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in the U.S., freeing up funds to help fight the outbreak. Over the previous few days, the U.S. government had announced various restrictions on travellers from Europe, and just days later, would extend the ban to people coming from the U.K. and Ireland.
READ MORE: How COVID-19 is spreading across Canada
March 14 – Edmonton closes public facilities
March 16 – Canada announces plans to close the border to international travel
Initially, there were exceptions for people coming from the U.S. The Canada-U.S. border was eventually closed to non-essential travel on March 18, with exceptions for truckers and a few other groups.
March 17 – Ontario starts shutting down
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in Ontario and ordered many businesses, including bars, cinemas and private schools, to close. Gatherings of more than 50 people were also prohibited. These restrictions would only grow over the coming weeks.
Other jurisdictions, both municipal and provincial, have also enacted similar guidelines restricting gatherings and closing businesses and city facilities.
March 18 – Government announces aid package
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 18 a number of economic benefits for people affected by COVID-19, or the economic problems it caused. Over the next few weeks, these programs were fleshed out and began accepting applicants.
Feds announce $80B aid package to help small business, low income earners
March 19 – No new domestic cases in Wuhan
The city of Wuhan reported no new community-acquired infections for the first time, though there were still cases attributed to travellers.
March 23 – Quebec closes non-essential businesses
Quebec took its social distancing measures a step further on March 23, closing all non-essential businesses. Liquor stores, grocery stores and take-out restaurants were allowed to remain open, among a list of others. Ontario soon enacted similar measures.
March 25 – Mandatory self-quarantine for travellers
As of March 25, anyone returning to Canada from abroad was legally required to self-quarantine for 14 days. While travellers had previously been asked to do this, it became enforceable.
Coronavirus outbreak: Canadians support more government measures to help fight COVID-19
April 2 – Canada hits 10,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19
Just a week later, this number would double, and most experts estimate that there are many more untested and unconfirmed cases in the community.
April 2 – More than 1 million cases confirmed globally
The same day that Canada hit 10,000 confirmed cases, more than one million were reported worldwide.
April 5 – U.K. prime minister admitted to hospital
Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital on April 5, after his COVID-19 symptoms got worse. He spent a few days in intensive care during the week.
April 6 – Signs B.C. is ‘bending’ the curve
On April 6, B.C. officials said that there were some early signs that the province was slowing the growth in the number of new cases of COVID-19. This would be good news, though they caution that it’s far too early to relax social distancing measures or even to say for sure that these measures are working.
April 9 – Canada hits 20,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19
Canada doubled its case count in just a week, with likely many more untested cases out there.
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