Apr 15, 2020 - Health

Chinese officials lost 6 key days in issuing public coronavirus warning

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks with scientists in Beijing in March. Photo: Yan Yan/Xinhua via Getty Images

The Chinese government failed to warn the public for days about the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan after officials secretly concluded on Jan. 14 that they likely were facing a pandemic, according to documents reviewed by the AP.

Why it matters: Chinese President Xi Jinping finally warned the public on Jan. 20, but millions of people had already begun traveling across the country to attend Lunar New Year celebrations.

  • It took the first case outside China, in Thailand on Jan. 13, to galvanize officials in Beijing to begin to launch a nationwide effort to distribute test kits, ease the criteria for confirming cases and order health officials to screen patients.
  • A Jan. 14 memo recognized that "clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible."
  • The following six days until Xi's public warning came on top of an almost two-week period in which China's Center for Disease Control did not register any cases from local officials — even though hundreds of patients were appearing in hospitals across the country.

What they're saying: "This is tremendous," Zuo-Feng Zhang, an epidemiologist at UCLA, told the AP. "If they took action six days earlier, there would have been much fewer patients and medical facilities would have been sufficient. We might have avoided the collapse of Wuhan’s medical system."

  • "Allegations of a cover-up or lack of transparency in China are groundless," said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a press conference last week.

Go deeper: U.S.-China tensions hit a dangerous new high

Go deeper

Coronavirus still has a foothold in the South

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Overall, new coronavirus infections in the U.S. are on the decline. But a small handful of states, mainly clustered in the South, aren't seeing any improvement.

The big picture: Our progress, nationwide, is of course good news. But it's fragile progress, and it’s not universal. Stubborn pockets of infection put lives at risk, and they can spread, especially as state lockdowns continue to ease.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Infectious disease experts doubt that the coronavirus will slow its spread during the summer, National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins wrote in a Tuesday blog post.

By the numbers: More than 105,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus and over 1.8 million people have tested positive, per data from Johns Hopkins. More than 458,000 Americans have recovered and over 17.3 million tests have been conducted.

Jun 1, 2020 - Health

Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.