On March 25, 2020, the Chinese province of Hubei that got hit by the coronavirus first will begin allowing its 60 million residents to walk on the streets after almost two months of a complete lockdown. This shows a strong confidence of the government that the measures taken have finally shown the results.
As already mentioned, the easing of the lockdown in the province of Hubei shows that China successfully tamed the epidemic by putting in place strict restrictions on citizens’ movement. Now across the whole of Europe and in the United States, new cases continue to appear every day, medical supplies and capacities are running out and many hospitals and medics are overwhelmed by the currency state of the pandemic. Therefore, government officials in many countries are ordering their citizens to stay home and self isolate themselves.
Of course, the loosening of the quarantine in China can be also explained by the desire of its ruling party to restart the economy, which already showed a double-digit drop in certain industries in the first quarter this year. It goes without saying that COVID-19 has seriously damaged the global economy and it is still not clear how the world will recover from such a hit.
However, the recent lifting of Hubei’s restrictions does not mean that travelling there and from the province will go back to normal. While many provinces and cities opened their borders for inner-country movements, international travelling is still prohibited.
Malik Peiris, chief of virology at the University of Hong Kong, said:
“We need to worry about a second wave of the outbreak once restrictions are limited. It is important to be aware of it and monitor it — and be prepared to reimpose these measures if they become necessary in the future”.
Still, not everyone has the same peace of mind and they are concerned that the threat of coronavirus has not fully passed yet. That stems from the fact that hours before the loosening of the restriction order was announced, officials in Wuhan were informed that one of the local doctors was tested positive for the virus after days with zero new cases there.
Media has also claimed that health officials are now revealing the actual number of cases not to raise fears that the virus is still spreading in China. What is more, cases continue to grow among those coming to China from abroad.
There is no doubt that the human cost of sealing off a province is huge and it will not be clear for months or even years to come how bad it actually is. While experts are convinced that strict lockdowns were necessary for containing the virus, Chinese people have been seriously struggling along this process and their personal liberties as well as livelihoods and seriously damaged as a result.
While Chinese authorities are proud to announce that there were recently zero new cases recorded in Wuhan for the first time, social media users in China started to upload content showing notices from Wuhan neighborhoods which appeared to announce newly detected cases.
In this regard, Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, asked local officials not to hide new coronavirus cases. He demanded to”seek truth from facts” and be “open and transparent” in releasing information on the epidemic.
“Being open and transparent means a new case must be reported once it’s discovered. It is what it is. There must be no concealing or underreporting,” – Li Keqiang added.