While many of us are living in places that are just starting to begin the process of self-isolation, the people of Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, are starting to remove their masks and resume their normal lives.
In December last year, a mystery virus had been detected in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei, China on New Year’s Eve. The World Health Organisation was alerted of an outbreak of “pneumonia of unknown cause”. Three months later and the entire world is caught up in a global pandemic. As we now know, that “unknown cause” was the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and it spreads like wildfire. Wuhan and surrounding cities in Hubei have been on lockdown since 23 January, emergency medical facilities have been erected and doctors have been working day and night to contain the outbreak as best as they possibly can.
However, with Chinese cities on lockdown, businesses and industries brought to a halt, they can now see some light at the end of the tunnel, with the virus beginning to level off in Hubei over the past few weeks. While some 3,099 people died as a result of the coronavirus, a further 55,094 have recovered. Only 15 new cases of COVID-19 were reported last week, after a surge of 15,000 new cases in a single day at the peak of the epidemic in February. And now China is getting back to work.
The following video was released on Twitter, showing doctors removing their protective masks in a symbolic gesture to signify the mitigation of the threat of the coronavirus. It has been viewed over 14 million times.
Food processors, manufacturers and other businesses essential for providing daily necessities in Wuhan, the city in the province where the coronavirus emerged in December, can reopen, the Hubei provincial government announced,” reports The Washington Post. “Construction also has gradually resumed on housing and public infrastructure projects in China as the country tries to bring employees back to work while still containing the epidemic.”
So while the rest of us are upset with China for spreading COVID-19 in the first place, the people in the know, specifically the World Health Organisation, is “working to share lessons learned there for the benefit of other countries now facing COVID-19,” according to The United Nations.
President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan last week, declaring that the disease had been “basically curbed” in a statement reported by Chinese state media.
“Hubei and Wuhan have been the very most decisive battleground in this struggle to contain the epidemic. Through arduous efforts, there has been a promising turn in epidemic containment in Hubei and Wuhan, and we’ve achieved important interim results,” Xi said.
Wuhan is expecting to have zero new cases of the virus by the end of March, barring any sudden turn of events, according to China’s Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases.
However, China has taken a set of particularly well carried out steps forward, such as erecting an entire hospital in just 10 days (Huoshenshan hospital). Other countries around the world, such as the United States, have not been as efficient with their emergency action plans and it’s unclear as to whether they will be able to curb the spread of the disease to the same effect.
China may have been the global epicenter for the disease, but they are also somewhat unique in terms of their demographics, their economic might and their centralisation of state powers. There’s no telling how this will play out for the rest of the world, but the fact that China is getting back to work is a good sign for all of us.