2020 Japan and the World in Review: February 2020 Timeline

A summary of important events in Japan and the world in February 2020.

February overview:

  • Diamond Princess coronavirus cluster
  • Japan’s first COVID-related death
  • Global market turmoil
  • Schools in Japan temporarily close
  • Tokyo Olympic organizers insist that the games will go as scheduled.
  • Snapshot of COVID-19 cases on February29th in Tokyo: 7-day moving average of people testing positive is 1.1 persons.

January 2020 Timeline: Important events in Japan in January 2020


February 1

— Amid coronavirus fears, Tokyo Olympic organizers try to dampen cancellation rumors.

–The first coronavirus death outside China is reported in the Philippines. The victim was a Chinese tourist, also infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae and influenza B, who recently arrived in the country.

— Apple Inc. announces it will close all of its stores and offices in China until February 9 due to the pandemic.

— The Palestinian National Authority cuts all ties with the United States and Israel, including those relating to security, after rejecting a peace plan presented by U.S. President Trump.

February 2

— Japan sends a destroyer to the Gulf of Oman amid heightening tensions in the region. The government says it is prepared to authorize the use of force to protect Japanese interests if needed.

February 3

— Chinese stock markets plunge on the first trading day after the Lunar New Year.

February 4

— Hong Kong reports the second death outside of mainland China.

— United Kingdom and France advise against all but essential travel to mainland China.

— Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying reports the death toll has surpassed 400 with over 20,000 people infected, and requests the United States “not to overreact”.

— President Trump pledges to safeguard Americans from the coronavirus in his State of the Union address.

February 5

— Japan confirms ten cases of the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship with nearly 4,000 passengers and crew and announces the ship will be quarantined for two weeks.

— S&P 500 index of US stocks closes at a record high of 3,334.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes 483.22 points higher, or 1.7%, at 29,290.85.

— US Senate votes to acquit President Trump of on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, and acquits him on the second charge, obstruction of Congress.

February 6

— Japan confirms an additional ten cases of the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

February 7

— Li Wenliang, one of the eight whistleblower doctors in Wuhan, dies from the coronavirus.

— Japan confirms an additional twenty-one cases aboard the cruise ship, including the first person from Latin America to be infected with the coronavirus.

— Singapore raises its virus alert to orange (the same level given to SARS and H1N1), sparking panicked purchases of essentials across the island.

— COVID-19 status on this date:

  • Total Countries With Confirmed Cases: 25
  • Total Cases Confirmed Globally: 31,484
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 638
  • Deaths Outside of China: 2

— Christina Koch returns to Earth from the International Space Station after a continuous 328 days in space, longer than any woman in history.

— It is reported that January 2020 was the warmest January ever on record in Europe.

February 8

— Japan confirms a Japanese citizen died in Wuhan from the coronavirus.

February 9

–The death toll from the novel coronavirus surpasses the toll from the SARS epidemic of 2002-3.

— At this year’s Oscars, South Korean film Parasite wins the most awards, including Best Picture and Best International Film. It becomes the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture.

February 10

— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, warns that overseas cases of the virus could be the “tip of the iceberg”.

February 11

— The death toll for the coronavirus surpasses 1,000.

— Hubei province reported 103 deaths in a single day, the highest single-day toll of the pandemic.

— WHO names the disease COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

February 12

— Japan confirms an additional thirty-nine cases aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 174.

— MS Westerdam, with more than two thousand people on board, is finally granted permission to disembark in Cambodia after several countries deny it permission.

— The GSM Association decides to cancel this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, amid coronavirus concerns. The event would have been held between February 24 and 27. This is the first time that the mobile communications trade show has been cancelled.

February 13

— Japan reports the third death outside of mainland China and Japan’s first death related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a woman in her 80s

— Japan confirms an additional forty-four cases aboard Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 218.

— EU health ministers convene in Brussels for an emergency health meeting on how to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in Europe.

— Vietnam quarantines a community of ten-thousand people near Hanoi.

— COVID-19 status on this date:

  • Total Countries With Confirmed Cases: 25
  • Total Cases Confirmed Globally: 60,387
  • Total Deaths Worldwide: 1370
  • Deaths Outside of China: 3

February 14

— Egypt confirms first case, the first case confirmed on the African continent.

— Beijing announces that everyone returning to the city would be required to isolate themselves for fourteen days.

— Confirmed virus-free passengers and passengers aged over eighty-years-old who test negative for the virus are allowed to disembark from the Princess Diamond cruise ship docked in Yokohama.

February 15

— Japan confirms an additional sixty-seven cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 285.

— The United States announces plans to evacuate nearly four hundred Americans quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship; passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be treated in Japan.

— Lockdowns and travel restrictions extend to more than 760 million people in China.

— The first death from the disease inside Europe occurs in France. He was an 80-year-old Chinese tourist who had arrived in Paris with symptoms of the illness on January 16.

February 16

— Japan warns that it has entered a “new phase” of the COVID-19 outbreak.

— Japan confirms an additional seventy cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 355.

— Prime Minister Abe sees his Cabinet approval rating log its sharpest fall in two years to 41.0%, a Kyodo News survey showed, dropping 8.3 points from the previous poll in January, amid ongoing political scandals after the parliamentary votes.

February 17

— Japan confirms an additional ninety-nine cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 454.

— Evacuated U.S. passengers from the cruise ship Diamond Princess arrive in the United States, including fourteen with confirmed infections.

— Prosecutors in Japan announce they are officially seeking the death penalty against Satoshi Uematsu for stabbing 19 disabled people to death in 2016.

— Armed robbers in Hong Kong steal HK$1,600 worth of toilet paper as COVID-19 has sparked panicked-buying of essential goods in Hong Kong.

February 18

— Japan confirms an additional eighty-eight cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 542.

— U.S. CDC issues a statement on the Diamond Princess quarantine, preventing all passengers and crew of the ship from returning to the United States for at least fourteen days after leaving Diamond Princess.

— Liu Zhiming, director of the Wuchang hospital in Wuhan, China, dies from the COVID-19.

February 19

— COVID-19 death toll surpasses 2,000.

— Japan confirms an additional seventy-nine cases aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, raising the total to 621.

— Passengers aboard the Princess Diamond begin to disembark from the ship.

— South Korea reports twenty cases in one day, almost all of which are linked to one woman.

— Iran confirms its first and second cases. Iran also reports its first and second deaths from COVID-19; the individuals were the two cases announced earlier in the day.

— The Tokyo Marathon reduces the number of runners from 38,000 to an elite group of 200 due to rising fears about the coronavirus.

— The U.S. S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite stock-market indexes hit all-time closing highs. The S&P 500 closes at 3386.15.

February 20

— Japan suspends major public gatherings to counter the spread of COVID-19.

— Italy closes public spaces in ten Italian towns after confirming sixteen cases in northern Italy in one day.

— The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) reports that international visitors to Japan were down 1.1% year-on-year in January 2020. Following a diplomatic spat, the number of travelers from South Korea has plummeted since August 2019, bringing down the overall total.

February 22

— Japan apologizes for allowing twenty-three passengers to leave the Diamond Princess without being tested.

— The U.S. Department of State issues Level 2 travel advisories (exercise increased caution) for Japan and South Korea.

— Italy confirms that a 78-year-old man in Padua, Veneto, and a woman in her 70s in Codogno, Lombardy, have died after contracting the virus. They are the first two coronavirus deaths in Italy.

February 23

— The last passenger disembarks from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

— Japan reports the third death from the Diamond Princess, but is unclear if the passenger had COVID-19.

— Iran shuts down schools, universities, and other educational centers in fourteen provinces, including in Qom and Tehran. — South Korea raises its alert level to “red,” the highest level available.

— The Emperor’s Birthday marked for the first time in the Reiwa era, but official celebrations cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

February 24

— Chinese officials postpone the National People’s Congress, the most significant political event in China.

— China warns its citizens against traveling to the United States, stating that Chinese tourists have faced unfair treatment in the country due to excessive prevention measures.

— Nearly 60 people are injured when a car rams civilians at a carnival parade in Volkmarsen, Hesse, Germany. A 29-year-old German national is arrested by police.

— Violent clashes in New Delhi, India, between Hindu and Muslim protestors over the Citizenship Amendment Act during U.S. President Trump’s visit leave 13 people dead and at least 150 injured. This follows benchmark indices falling sharply in Europe after steep declines across Asia.

— The Trump administration sends a budget request to Congress for $2.5 billion to fight COVID-19.

— Stock markets plunge after significant increases in confirmed cases and deaths outside of China over the weekend. The Dow closes down 3.56%. It was the Dow’s biggest point and percentage-point drop since February 2018. The Dow also gave up its gain for 2020 and is now down 2% for the year.

February 25

— U.S. CDC warns that spread to the United States is likely and that people should prepare.

— San Francisco becomes the first U.S. city to declare a state of emergency over COVID-19.

February 26

— Prime Minister Abe calls for sports and cultural events to be stopped for two weeks. This comes after Japan confirmed its second local death, amid concerns the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled.

— Hokkaido will close schools from February 27 to March 4, while Tokyo allowed schools to start some classes later.

— WHO announces that February 25 was the first day there was more new cases outside of China than from China.

February 27

— Prime Minister Abe asks for schools to close across the country from March 2 to the end of spring vacation in early April to slow the spread of the virus.

— New Zealand confirms its first case, a traveler from Iran.

— Mexico confirms its first case, a traveler from Italy.

— Switzerland bans all large gatherings over 1,000 people until at least March 15.

February 28

— 464 more coronavirus cases are confirmed in Italy, bringing the number to 888. Four more virus-related deaths are confirmed, bringing the death toll in the country to 21.

— Australia reports its first COVID-19 death, an evacuee from the Diamond Princess.

— The Dow Jones Industrial Average drops 800 points at opening, continuing the worst week since the financial crisis of 2007–08. This week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 13% and 4,000 points.

— The ITB Berlin, the world’s largest tourism trade fair, is cancelled after authorities imposed the restriction that each participant would have to prove they are not a risk.

February 29

— American and Afghan Taliban leaders meet in Qatar, ahead of a signing ceremony to bring an end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan, which is now the longest war in U.S. history. Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani says “everyone is tired of war, it has exhausted everyone”, while the longest-serving NATO Commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, describes the situation as a “stalemate”.

— Turkish President Recep Erdoğan says 18,000 refugees have crossed into Europe as of this morning and that 25,000–30,000 more may cross today. Erdoğan reiterates that Turkey cannot handle another refugee wave from Syria and that it will keep its borders open.

— The United States reports its first death, a man in his fifties with an underlying health condition.

— Washington state in the United States declares a state of emergency.

–Snapshot of COVID-19 cases on this date in Tokyo: 7-day moving average for Tokyo is equal to 1.1 persons.


March 2020 Timeline: Important events in Japan in March 2020


Thinkglobalhealth.org updated timeline of the coronavirus

Wikipedia current events February 2020

Wikipedia Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics

— CNBC, ‘”Dow plunges 1,000 points on coronavirus fears, 3.5% drop is worst in two years,” February 23, 2020

— Nippon.com, “Foreign Visitors to Japan Continue Downward Trend in January,” February 21, 2020

Tokyo Metropolitan Government COVID-19 Information Website