COVID-19 SPECIAL

Timeline of coronavirus outbreaks in Hong Kong and South Korea

Hong Kong Correspondent Claire Huang and South Korea Correspondent Chang May Choon trace how both places saw a spike in Covid-19 cases despite initial success in curbing the outbreak

Fans keeping a safe distance from one another during a baseball game at a stadium in Seoul on Sunday. South Korea, which eased Covid-19 curbs in May, has had to reimpose them as a second wave of infections hit some places. People eating in a designat
People eating in a designated safe-distancing dining area at the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong. The city banned all dine-in services at eateries yesterday after Covid-19 infections continued to rise.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Fans keeping a safe distance from one another during a baseball game at a stadium in Seoul on Sunday. South Korea, which eased Covid-19 curbs in May, has had to reimpose them as a second wave of infections hit some places. People eating in a designat
Fans keeping a safe distance from one another during a baseball game at a stadium in Seoul on Sunday. South Korea, which eased Covid-19 curbs in May, has had to reimpose them as a second wave of infections hit some places. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG

Jan 23: First confirmed patient - a 39-year-old male non-Hong Kong resident - is reported.

Jan 25: All schools, closed for Chinese New Year, to reopen on Feb 17.

Jan 27: Ban on Hubei residents and people who have travelled to Hubei, except Hong Kong residents.

Jan 28: Civil servants to work from home till Feb 2.

Jan 30: Suspension of the high-speed rail service between Hong Kong and China, as well as all cross-border ferry services.

Jan 31: First death reported. It is an imported case, a 39-year-old male Hong Kong resident.

Feb 3: Hundreds of Hong Kong medical workers go on strike to push for full border closure.

Feb 8: Travellers returning from the mainland to be quarantined at home for 14 days.

Feb 25: Hong Kong schools to stay shut till April 20.

March 2: Tally of infected cases hits 100.

March 19: Mandatory two-week quarantine extended to all arriving passengers, including residents.

March 25: Entry ban on most non-residents.

March 29: Tighter measures rolled out including limiting public gatherings to groups of up to four, closures of six types of leisure venues, and eateries to halve their capacities.

 
 

MEASURES EASED

May 4: Civil servants return to offices; schools stay shut.

May 8: With no new local transmissions for more than two weeks, gyms, bars, cinemas and gaming centres reopen. Public gathering limit raised to eight.

May 27: Classes for higher secondary students resume, with the younger ones to follow in June.

June 19: Group gathering limit raised to 50 from eight. The caps on other measures are also raised.

CASES START RISING

June 20: New local clusters detected.

July 11: Anti-epidemic measures concerning eateries and other venues tightened.

July 13: Kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools start their summer holidays.

 
 

July 15: New rule mandates wearing of face masks on public transport. Ban on dining-in at all eateries from 6pm to 5am and all gatherings capped at four, while some businesses must shut for seven days.

July 21: New cases cross the 2,000 mark.

July 23: Face masks to be worn in all indoor public venues.

July 27: Single-day new infections peak at 145.

July 29: Social distancing measures tightened further, including public gatherings to be capped at two, masks to be worn at all times in outdoor public places, and complete ban on dining-in at all eateries.


SOUTH KOREA

Jan 20: South Korea reports first case - a 35-year-old Chinese woman living in north-western city Incheon who had visited Wuhan.

Feb 4: All arrivals from Hubei province, epicentre of the outbreak in China, banned.

Feb 18: Patient 31, a 61-year-old woman and member of the secretive church Shincheonji, tests positive in south-eastern city Daegu.

Feb 20: First death detected - a 63-year-old man who tests positive posthumously - as number of cases, many traced back to Patient 31, starts spiking.

Feb 21: Daegu and neighbouring Cheongdo designated "special care zones" to allow more funds and resources to be diverted to those places to fight the virus.

Feb 23: Virus alert level raised to red, the highest level, as number of cases spike to 604. New spring term for schools pushed from March 2 to March 9. They will eventually reopen on April 8 with online lessons.

 
 
 

Feb 26: First drive-through testing centre opens, allowing testing to be done in 10 minutes.

Feb 27: Daily figure of 505 new cases outpaces China (450) for the first time. Its total tally hits 1,766.

Feb 29: Number of daily new cases soars to a record high of 909, as testing of all Shincheonji's 200,000 members begins.

March 3: President Moon Jae-in declares "war" against virus, puts all government agencies on 24-hour alert.

March 22: Strict social distancing measures imposed.

April 3: 10,000 threshold is crossed with 10,062 cases recorded. However, number of new cases drops below 100 and will continue to fall in the months ahead.

MEASURES EASED

May 6: Social distancing eased, as daily new cases plunge to single digits.

CASES START RISING

May 11: New cluster linked to Seoul's nightlife district Itaewon hits 94 cases, triggering fears of second wave.

May 20: Schools resume physical lessons in phases, starting with high school seniors.

May 26: Mask-wearing now mandatory on all forms of public transport.

 
 

May 29: Strict social distancing re-enforced in Seoul and neighbouring Gyeonggi province and Incheon city.

June 28: Government announces three-level social distancing policy

• Current state of Level 1 (below 50 new cases a day): No specific restrictions.

• Level 2 (daily new cases rise to 51 to 100): Indoor meetings of more than 50 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100 banned.

• Level 3 (daily new cases exceed 100): School closures, ban on gatherings of 10 or more people.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 30, 2020, with the headline 'Ups & downs'. Print Edition | Subscribe