COVID-19 Timeline

Tracking key events in NZ and international milestones

2019 ⇒

December 2019

  • 1 December Cases of unknown pneumonia surface in Wuhan, China
  • 31 December (International) New virus reported to World Health Organisation

2020 ⇒

January 2020

  • 15 January (International) First case reported outside of China (Thailand)
  • 24 January (International) Cases reported in Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan,  Hong Kong, Macau, Canada, France, and the United         States                                                                                                                                                                                                                (International) Virus confirmed to be transmissible
  • 25 January (International) First three cases confirmed in Australia
  • 28 January Ministry of Health sets up National Health Coordination Centre (NHCC)
  • 30 January Infectious & Notifiable Diseases Order issued, requiring health practitioners to report any suspected cases

February 2020


  • 3 February       Government announces that foreign travellers who left from China would be denied entry to New Zealand, with only New Zealand citizens and permanent residents and their family being allowed to enter. Foreigners who left China and spent at least 14 days in another country are permitted to enter New Zealand.
  • 7 February       Ministry of Health set up a dedicated Healthline freephone number  for COVID-19-related calls.
  • 8 February       2 New Zealanders aboard the cruise ship Diamond Princess in Japan are confirmed to have the virus
  • 11 February     (International) WHO names the new disease COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019                                                        (International) Total deaths exceed that of the SARS outbreak of 2002-2004
  • 17 February     (International) First person outside of Asia dies (Chinese tourist in France)
  • 24 February     Ban on foreign travellers who left from China extended by eight days
  • 28 February     First confirmed case in New Zealand                                                                                                                                              Government extends travel restrictions to include travellers from Iran


  • 1 Case
  • 0 Deaths


March 2020

  • 2 March           Government announces any person who has visited northern Italy or South Korea must self-isolate for 14 days
  • 4-7 March        Second, third, fourth, and fifth cases confirmed (daily increases from there), including first person-to-person transmission in New Zealand
  • 10 March         (International) Italy goes on national lockdown
  • 11 March         (International) WHO declares an official global pandemic
  • 12 March         (International) United States suspends travel from Europe
  • 14 March         New Zealand starts announcing new cases daily, and that anyone arriving in the country must self-isolate for 14 days (save those from the Pacific)
  • 16 March         Prime Minister announces that any tourists that don’t self-isolate for 14 days will be deported                                                                  Air New Zealand halts share trading                                                                                                                                                                  Reserve Bank announces emergency cut of the Official Cash rate
  • 17 March         New Zealand Government announces $12.1 billion economic assistance package, including a $500 million boost for health, $8.7 billion in support for businesses and jobs, and $2.8 billion for income support.
  • 18 March         20 confirmed cases
  • 19 March         28 confirmed cases                                                                                                                                                                                      All indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are cancelled                                                                                                                            New Zealand Government closes the borders to everyone but citizens and permanent residents (first time in history)
  • 20 March         39 confirmed cases
  • 21 March         52 confirmed cases                                                                                                                                                                                   Prime Minister announces the new alert level system and that the country was moving to level 2
  • 22 March         66 confirmed cases
  • 23 March         102 confirmed cases (including first two cases of community transmission)                                                                                             Prime Minister announced country would, effective immediately (1.40pm) enter alert level 3, and that after Wednesday the          country would go into alert level 4 for at a minimum 4 weeks
  • 24 March         155 confirmed cases
  • 25 March         205 confirmed and probable cases                                                                                                                                              National State of Emergency declared at 12.21pm in Parliament                                                                                                                                       Country entered alert level 4 at 11.59pm
  • 29 March         First NZ coronavirus-related death reported


  • 205 Cases
  • 23 777 Tests
  • 1 Death



  • 16 Clusters


April 2020

  • 2-5 April          NZ peak level of new cases reached (89)
  • 3 April             (International) One million cases recorded worldwide                                                                                                                  Finance Minister announces changes to the Companies Act to help struggling businesses
  • 5 April             Ethnicity statistics are released on the cases
  • 6 April             (International) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hospitalised
  • 7 April             First time the number of active cases dropped (recoveries outnumbered new cases)
  • 9 April             Compulsory 2 week quarantine for New Zealanders arriving the country announced, to commence by end of the day
  • 15 April           (International) Two million cases recorded worldwide
  • 13-19 April      Death toll rose to 12
  • 18 April           (International) WHO releases data on cases by age and sex
  • 20 April           Prime Minister announced that the country would drop down to alert level 3 at 11.59pm on 27 April, and that the plan was to remain at level 3 for a minimum of 2 weeks, with a decision made on 11 May on whether to drop to level 2
  • 27 April           (International) Global death toll surpasses 200,000 and cases are expected to soon break 3 million                       
  •                                     Country moves to alert level 3 at 11.59pm, 19 deaths.


  • 205 Cases
  •  139 898 Tests
  • 19 Deaths


May 2020

  • 4 May              First day in New Zealand where the reported new cases were 0 (this was repeated the follow day, May 5th)
  • 9 May              (International) Globally, the number of cases passes 4 million, with a death toll of 282,000. New Zealand’s death toll is at 21.
  • 11 May            The Prime Minister announces that a staggered move into Alert Level 2 will occur from 14 May
  • 14 May            New Zealand enters Alert Level 2 with no new cases (the same as on May 12 & 13) and deaths remaining at 21.                           $50 billion recovery package is announced as part of Budget 2020.
  • 15 May            (International) more than 4.75 million cases worldwide, more than 316,000 deaths, and more than 1.75 million have recovered.


  • 1153 cases
  • 1442 recovered
  • 234 000 tests
  • 21 deaths


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