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Timeline: SARS outbreak

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The following is the some of the key developments in the SARS outbreak.

February 10, 2003: Chinese health authorities say an outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness has sickened 305 people and killed five in the southern province of Guangdong since November 2002.

February 14: As rumors of hundreds of more cases and panic buying of food and supplies continue in Guangdong, the Chinese government appeals for calm and says the disease is under control.

February 26: Doctors in Hong Kong report the first case of a severe form of pneumonia.

February 28: Vietnam alerts the World Health Organization (WHO) after an American businessman presents with "atypical pneumonia" symptoms at a Hanoi hospital.

March 12: The WHO issues a global health alert after cases of atypical pneumonia, which doesn't appear to respond to standard treatments, spreads to medical staff in Vietnam and Hong Kong.

March 15: The WHO issues an emergency travel advisory, putting airlines on alert for cases of suspected atypical pneumonia among passengers. The advisory increases global awareness of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) after cases in Singapore and Canada are also identified.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Americans consider delaying non-essential travel to countries affected by an outbreak of atypical pneumonia.

March 18: Scientists and doctors say preliminary tests indicate SARS may be caused by a common class of virus known as paramyxovirus, a family of microbes that causes measles, mumps and canine distemper, as well as several respiratory diseases.

March 20: Health officials in Hong Kong say more than 80 percent of the current SARS cases can be tracked down to a single doctor who had treated patients in Guangdong. The doctor traveled to Hong Kong on February 21 and stayed at the Metropole Hotel. He is then believed to have passed the virus to seven other guests on the same floor. The doctor died in a Hong Kong hospital on March 4 and his brother-in-law, who has dined with the doctor, died on March 19.

March 21: The WHO says a five-member team of infectious disease experts will be traveling to Guangdong where the illness is believed to have originated.

March 23: The chief of Hong Kong's Hospital Authority is admitted to hospital with symptoms of pneumonia.

March 24: The CDC says a new strain of coronavirus that causes the common cold may be responsible for the emergence of the mysterious respiratory disease. Singapore orders about 740 people who may have been exposed to the mystery illness to stay home for 10 days.

March 26: China dramatically ups the number of infections it has recorded, saying almost 800 people have infected with SARS and 31 from Guangdong and three in Beijing have died from the virus.

Singapore announced the nation will close all schools for more than two weeks.

Ontario orders thousands of people to quarantine themselves in their homes.

March 27: Hong Kong orders all schools closed and quarantines more than 1,000 people.

The Rolling Stones postpone their weekend concerts in Hong Kong.

Medical researchers in the United States and Hong Kong say mounting evidence indicates that coronavirus is causing the new form of deadly pneumonia.

The WHO calls for stringent screening of air travelers on flights leaving affected regions.

March 29: The WHO doctor who first identified the outbreak of atypical pneumonia in Vietnam, Dr. Carlo Urbani, dies of the illness in Thailand.

Australia advises its citizens to reconsider traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Vietnam.

The CDC extends its travel advisory to include all of mainland China.

March 31: Hong Kong orders all residents of an apartment block to quarantine themselves at home after announcing that 185 tenants at the Amoy Gardens apartment complex have fallen ill with the disease.

April 1: Hong Kong opens two holiday villages and isolates some 240 residents from Amoy Gardens.

April 2: The WHO issues a travel advisory recommending all non-essential travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong be postponed.

China allows the WHO experts to visit Guangdong amid mounting international criticism of the Chinese government over its secretiveness about the disease.

The U.S. State Department authorizes the departure of non-essential diplomats and families based in China and Hong Kong.

April 3: The WHO team arrives in Guangdong as Chinese health officials stress the outbreak is "under effective control."

Thailand announces it will quarantine entire planeloads of visitors from high-risk countries for 14 days if anyone on board is found with symptoms.

Indonesia declares SARS a national epidemic and issues a decree whereby people who obstruct attempts to control the disease could face a one-year jail term plus a fine.

April 4: U.S. President George W. Bush issues an executive order adding SARS to the list of communicable diseases for which a healthy person suspected of being infected can be quarantined against their will.

April 5: Chinese government apologizes for its slow reporting on the outbreak.

April 6: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says the country is capable of curbing the spread of SARS virus and declares it is safe to travel to China.

April 7: Singapore calls out military paramedics to help nurses in screening passengers at the airport.

April 8: A Chinese military doctor accuses the government of concealing the truth in a letter sent to journalists, saying there are more cases and deaths in Beijing than the official figures. Some doctors say epidemic wards at several hospitals are full with suspected SARS patients.

April 9: Malaysia stops issuing entry visas to most Chinese travelers.

The Roman Catholic church in Singapore suspends hearing confessions.

April 11: Hong Kong announces all departing passengers will be tested for signs of the SARS virus infection before boarding planes at the airport. The authorities also order home confinement for 70 households with confirmed SARS cases.

April 13: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao concedes the SARS outbreak in China is "grave" and pledges the government will "speak the truth" in disclosing facts and figures.

April 14: Researchers in Canada announce they sequenced the genome for the coronavirus suspected to cause SARS.

April 16: WHO doctors visit two military hospitals in Beijing and say the Chinese government has excluded patients in military hospitals in its official reports.

The WHO confirms a previously unknown form of coronavirus is the cause of SARS. The U.N. organization names the newly recognized pathogen (disease agent) as the "SARS virus."

April 17: Health officials in Hong Kong say they believe the virus was not transmitted in water or in the air in the Amoy Gardens housing complex, but could be spread by contact with fecal matter from an infected individual through a leaky sewage system.

China's President Hu Jintao calls on authorities to provide full support for SARS research and co-operate with international agencies.

April 18: TIME magazine reports health officials in Beijing tried to cover-up the scale of the city's SARS infections by driving around dozens of patients in ambulances and moving others to hotels during hospital inspection visits by WHO officials.

Britain says it has quarantined about 150 boarding school pupils arriving back from Asia for 10 days.

April 19: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao demands officials come clean over cases of infection and report data quickly and accurately to central authorities.

April 20: China's health ministry raises the number of confirmed SARS cases significantly, saying more than 300 cases had not been counted.

China's health minister and the mayor of Beijing are sacked from their positions and their Communist Party posts.

The central government in China also announces it is canceling one of the country's biggest national holidays -- the week-long May 1 International Workers' Day holiday.

Singapore's Ministry of Health closes a leading wholesale vegetable market and quarantines all 2,500 employees.

April 23: Beijing officials say the city will close all primary and elementary schools for two weeks.

The WHO steps up its travel warnings, urging people to avoid unnecessary trips to China's Shanxi Province, Beijing and Toronto -- an extension of previous travel warnings to Hong Kong and Guangdong province.

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