The city of Wuhan in Hubei province was where the outbreak first began all those fateful months ago. At the time, it was being described as a ‘mystery illness’, but the situation evolved more rapidly than anyone could have anticipated, with the coronavirus – named Covid-19 − spreading across borders at an unprecedented rate and becoming a global emergency and then a pandemic that has affected more than 100 countries.
In recent days, the country has reported only imported cases of the virus and few or no new domestic cases
The Hubei provincial government said today (Tuesday 24 March) that it would lift the control order on residents of the region − not including the city of Wuhan − after midnight, and ‘outbound traffic will be restored in an orderly manner’. This will mean that people can travel to other places within and outside Hubei province.
As for Wuhan, Hubei province has said that travel restrictions will be lifted on 8 April, thereby ending a lockdown that began on 23 January. The lifting of the mass quarantine comes after Chinese authorities reported a sustained decline in locally reported coronavirus cases. Hubei reported that new infections dropped to zero on March 19, a dramatic reduction given that the virus has infected more than 80,000 and killed over 3,200 Chinese people. And, in recent days, the country has reported only imported cases of the virus and few or no new domestic cases.
Is this the light at the end of the tunnel? Could this bring renewed hope to other countries currently grappling with the virus? With (at the time of writing) around one-fifth of the world’s population under some kind of order to stay inside their home, the possibility of an end in sight is much needed.