Since the coronavirus first emerged from Wuhan, China in December 2019, it has spread to more than 100 countries and infected thousands of people.
Cruise ships, hotels, and individuals have been put into quarantine in an effort to contain the virus.
However, several times and in several countries the official containment measures have been breached.
Given the rapid spread of the virus, it is hard to know which mistakes are inconsequential, and which could lead to many more infections.
This week the coronavirus started to spread rapidly outside of China, ravaging markets and establishing itself as a global threat.
At the time of writing, more than 119,000 people have been infected in at least 100 countries and 4,200 people have died from the illness, mostly in China. Experts say we are on the brink of a pandemic. (For the latest numbers, see Business Insider's live updates here.)
Various companies, governments, and health authorities have put into place sweeping measures to stop the virus spreading, like bans on travel, quarantines, or canceling events.
However — such measures rely on strictly following protocols. Whether through complacency, miscommunication, or incompetence, that has not always happened.
Here is a list of all the times something slipped through the net.
A disclaimer: Much is still unknown about the virus and exactly how it spreads. A single breach could lead to millions of extra infections, or zero. Many scientists think containment — even if perfectly executed — is ultimately futile.
The outbreak began in December 2019, and at first scientists did not realize what a disaster the new disease would be. During this period, Chinese officials discouraged "rumors" of a new virus, and punished a doctor who tried to spread word of it.
The doctor, Li Wenliang, later died fighting the outbreak in Wuhan.
Chinese social media was filled with outpourings of grief and anger after Li's death, with many posts featuring the hashtag "We want freedom of speech", according to Business Insider's Sinéad Baker.
Complacency more broadly was a problem. Officials in Wuhan were slow to realise the severity of the outbreak, which came ahead of a travel rush at Lunar New Year. By the time the city was put on lockdown, many cases had been recorded elsewhere in China.
Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
As it became clear how serious the outbreak was, China's central government fired officials in Wuhan and took the unusual step of publicly admitting its mistake.
The admission came from the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful body of the Chinese Communist Party, Business Insider's Lauren Frias reported.
In an official record of the meeting, published by Xinhua news agency, the committee said that the epidemic had exposed problems in its emergency management, which it promised to improve.
Source: Business Insider
One of the most visible errors was a massive potluck banquet for more than 10,000 families in Wuhan on January 18, where guests brought food from home and shared it with each other.
It was by then clear that an outbreak was underway: three days later the entire city would be quarantined.
"Having a big event like this at a time of an epidemic amounts to a lack of basic common sense," said Li Xinzhou, a respiratory specialist in Shanghai, told The Wall Street Journal.
There were mistakes elsewhere. In the UK a math teacher who lived in Wuhan but flew home on January 26. He said he wasn't tested and that officials told him not to worry unless"he got the sniffles."
David Marland lived just five minutes from a live animal and seafood market in Wuhan which was ground zero for transmission of the virus.
He told Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that he was concerned about the official advice he was given.
There were problems too as the first US evacuees from Wuhan were flown home. Healthcare workers who met them on January 29 reportedly did so without appropriate protective gear or proper training.
The claim came from a whistleblower at the Department of Health and Human Services, and was not made public until almost a month later, in an article by The Washington Post.
For more than a week, the worst coronavirus hotspot outside China was a single cruise ship, the Diamond Princess. The entire ship was quarantined, and more and more people on board started to get sick.
Carl Court/Getty Images
From the beginning of the quarantine, passengers reported a lack of information on the ship as well as concerns that their temperature screenings were not done properly, Business Insider's Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported.
At the time of writing, the ship has seen 705 cases of infected passengers, and four deaths.
An official at Japan's ministry of health later admitted problems with the idea. An independent expert said it was "flawed" and the problems "completely predictable."
At a press conference on February 24, Yosuke Kita, a senior coordinator at Japan's Ministry of Health, said: "I admit, our isolation policy was not perfect. No place is perfect except in a hospital."
"The whole idea of the cruise ship quarantine was ill-conceived, and the resultant slew of infections it spawned was completely predictable," Dr. Amesh Adalja with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security previously told Business Insider.
Source: Business Insider
Eventually, authorities let people get off the ship. However, at least 23 of them had never been properly tested for the virus — prompting an embarrassing apology from Japan.
Japanese health minister Katsunobu Kato apologized after a woman in her 60s tested negative, was allowed to leave, and later turned out to have had the virus.
She had already returned to her home in a suburb outside Tokyo, Japan, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper reported that Kato said that the ministry was trying to reach other passengers for retesting.
"We deeply apologize for the situation caused by our oversight. We will take all necessary measures, like double checks, to prevent a recurrence," he said.
Another error linked to the ship came when the UK flew home its citizens who were aboard. Four people were cleared to fly home even though their tests were still at the lab. They all had the virus.
The other British evacuees who arrived with the infected passengers expressed their anger that those who tested positive were allowed to fly.
In a WhatsApp message seen by Sky News, one wrote: "They let them fly without the results, so they have put us in a position where we now could have it too."
Testing errors hit the US too. A woman under quarantine in San Diego after arriving from Wuhan was accidentally released despite showing symptoms of the virus.
The patient was released from the UC San Diego Health center after initial test results found they had not to been infected, Business Insider reported.
But when the patient started showing symptoms and tested positive, they were sent back for observation and isolation.
In an email statement, published by the San Diego Union-Tribune, the university said that even though the infected evacuee was accidentally released, all proper protocols were followed.
"The patient left UC San Diego Health the same way they arrived, with all precautions taken," it said.
Also in the US, a hospital for several days ignored a patient who later turned out to be the first "community spread" case in the nation because she didn't meet their criteria to be tested.
NorthBay VacaValley Hospital, where a woman diagnosed with coronavirus previously sought treatment.
Staff members at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in northern California didn't test the woman because she had not recently travelled to or from China or had contact with any other confirmed cases, according to The Washington Post.
Four days later, after she got worse, they admitted her on February 15.
The hospital since said it was "meticulously tracing" anyone who came into contact with the woman in case they got sick too.
Around the same time, a patient in London broke protocol by turning up the hospital in an Uber on February 13. Two staff members she came in contact with were asked to stay home for 14 days.
While it is unlikely that the Uber driver caught the virus, the woman went against official advice by not calling an ambulance or using a private vehicle to get to the hospital, Business Insider reported.
It soon emerged that some coronavirus test kits didn't work at all. Health officials in Hawaii announced that the CDC had sent them flawed equipment.
Outside of Hawaii, the CDC admitted on February 12 that some coronavirus test kits sent to laboratories around the country did not work properly, according to the New York Times.
It is unclear how many of these tests were faulty, leading to heightened concerns about the effectiveness of using the tests to track the spread of disease, Business Insider's Rosie Perper reported.
This appears to have been a wider problem, with the CDC admitting that it lost valuable weeks after attempting to devise its own test.
A ProbPublica investigation found that the CDC shunned official World Health Organization test guidelines by trying to create a more complicated test of its own which could also identify similar viruses.
It didn't work as expected.
The lack of reliable tests prevented local officials from taking crucial first step in coping with a possible outbreak, ProPublica reported.
In South Korea, a controversial church went ahead with a mass wedding ceremony on February 20 despite rising numbers of cases.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
At the event, 6,000 members of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus were asked to "remove face masks while attending prayer sessions", according to Business Insider.
South Korea now has the second-largest number of cases outside of China, many of them linked to the church.
It was already obvious that the virus was a big problem in South Korea.
Church leaders went ahead, despite the cancellation of other festivals, concerts, and graduation ceremonies in South Korea.
Meanwhile, the spread of the coronavirus in Europe escalated when Italy reported a surge in cases.
Italy has recorded the most infections outside of Asia.
Some of the blame has been put on a mistake by a hospital in the Lombardy region, which let the suspected first patient roam its premises for 36 hours.
Yara Nardi / Reuters
According to a report by Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the 38-year-old man was admitted to the emergency room in Codogno, Lombardy on February 19 with respiratory problems.
During the 36-hour period in which he was waiting to be seen, the patient made contact with hospital staff and visiting friends and family.
Italy's prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, appeared to admit the fault of the Lombardy hospital Business Insider reported.
He told reporters Monday: "There has been a management of the hospital not entirely proper according to prudent protocols, which are recommended in these cases, and this has certainly contributed to the spread."
Back in the US, a Texas patient who was released from quarantine after meeting "all of the CDC's criteria for release" ended up testing positive for the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted to their mistake in a statement on Sunday, March 1.
They said: "The discharged patient had some contact with others while out of isolation, and CDC and local public health partners are following up to trace possible exposures and notify them of their potential risk."
The CDC also said it is aware and looking into recent similar incidents where test results have alternated back forth, according to Business Insider.
Although cases in China have started to slow, more and more countries are reporting their own outbreaks.
Source: Business Insider
A hospital worker in New Hampshire, the first in the state to test positive, was told to self-isolate at home but went to an event at Dartmouth College's business school instead on February 28.
The patient is an employee at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, according to NBC Boston.
On March 3, health officials announced that there was a second recorded coronavirus case in the state.
All others who attended the event are now being told to also stay isolated, NBC Boston reported.
Source: NBC Boston
Similarly, the father and sister of a Missouri woman who had returned from Italy on March 2 and was feeling sick, attended a school dance together. Now the woman is the state's first presumptive positive for COVID-19.
Associated Press/Elaine Thompson
The family had been told repeatedly to self-quarantine, according to Business Insider.
"The way the family has reacted to this situation is really a tale of two reactions ... A study of how people should and should not react to the coronavirus."
In northern Italy, plans by the government to quarantine 16 million people were leaked early by a national newspaper — causing thousands of people to "flee" the region before the measures took place.
Ivan Romano/Getty Images
Roberto Burioni, a professor of microbiology and virology at Milan's Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, told The Guardian: "What happened with the news leak has caused many people to try to escape, causing the opposite effect of what the decree is trying to achieve.
"Unfortunately, some of those who fled will be infected with the disease."
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also condemned the leak, calling it "unacceptable", the newspaper reported.
Source: Business Insider
A Korean contractor lied about his health and continued going to work at Camp Walker, a US military base in South Korea. He later tested positive for coronavirus.
A total of nine coronavirus cases have been linked since February 24 to US Forces in Korea, according to Business Insider.
A commander at US Army Garrison Daegu, Edward Ballanco, said the contractor was "sick one week ago and kept coming on post" and that he did not answer any of the health questions "truthfully."
Calling the man's actions "reprehensible," the commander said, "he will never be coming on post again."
Source: Business Insider
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