Relaxation of the lockdown measures in Wuhan after almost three months of lockdown
May 6, 2020
While the number of cases of COVID-19 is still increasing globally, surpassing 3 million, countries are discussing of relaxing lockdown measures, five months after the beginning of the outbreak. European countries such as France, Germany or Spain are slowly introducing opening cities, whereas people in the United States are protesting the lockdown. But for Wuhan, place of origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown measures have been relaxed for one month.
After identifying and reporting new cases of an unknown disease, the Chinese city was put under lockdown (followed by the entire Hubei province under quarantine) by the government to control the outbreak on January 23, 2020. After a relaxation of the lockdown at the end of March 2020, following a sudden decrease in the number of new cases reported, the city saw the lockdown lifted in early April 2020. Many countries are watching how the Chinese government will manage the post-lockdown period against the many risks that it introduces, such as a second wave or how will the economy recover, in order to replicate it.
However, lifting the lockdown does not mean returning to normality. People still need to show that they are clear of the virus (with a green code) wherever they go inside or outside of the city, and inhabitants are still observing social distancing measures. Many workplaces and restaurants remain closed, and so do all schools and leisure activities buildings. There is still fear of a second wave of the outbreak in the city, with a possibility of a high number of undetected asymptomatic cases leading to it. As asymptomatic infections have not been substantially reported in Wuhan, it is unclear how many people have already been infected, and whether they have reached herd immunity. The virus is still present in many parts of the world, and will pose a continued threat of initiating a second wave through global travel in places that are reopening. A recent example of the initiation of a second wave in China, was the detection of new cases from Russia in a bordering city in northern China. Following the increase in the number of imported cases, and epidemiological investigations, the government responded rapidly by closing the land border and putting a lockdown on some areas. While it is possible to lower the risk of a second epidemic wave in the community, it is critical to maintain a good surveillance system to detect new infections as quickly as possible because infections will still occur from time to time.
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