The pandemic started in Wuhan, China, where, after accumulating just 41 deaths, the city and province were fully locked down with authoritarian intensity and the remainder of the massive country went to shelter in place. They were able to reverse their growing death rate about 30 days on 24 Feb and reached the point where Wuhan could unlock (albeit with many controls in place a month after that (so 8 weeks). The rest of China was able to unlock earlier as they caught the epidemic early enough for contact tracing and isolation to limit it.
Could this pandemic have been anticipated internationally? As soon as it was known that (1) the virus spread easily, (2) it spread asymptomatically, and (3) many travelers had left China before the issue was uncovered, it was clear this would likely become a worldwide pandemic. Lack of testing has limited our awareness of community spread in several areas including the Seattle area and Italy.