(TMU) — The Chinese government announced on Tuesday that it will lift the months-long lockdown on Central China’s Hubei Province, beginning Wednesday—two months after the region was plunged into complete isolation.
The provincial capital, Wuhan, where the coronavirus first emerged, will be excluded from the initial lifting of travel restriction as health authorities hope to make further gains in the fight against the pandemic.
Health officials believe that transportation out of Wuhan could be set to restart by April 8, Bloomberg reports.
Wuhan, a city of roughly 11 million residents, had been heavily hit by the virus before China adopted an unprecedented set of decisive and draconian measures on January 23 that effectively restricted the movements of 60 million people throughout Hubei province.
Beijing’s heavy-handed moves initially faced criticism in Western media but have since been hailed as crucial in helping to control the spread of the nightmarish novel virus.
The tactical efficiency of China’s tough measures have seemingly been borne out by the statistics, with Hubei reporting that new infections have dropped to zero on March 19—signaling a dramatic reversal of fortunes after the coronavirus rampaged through the East Asian country, infecting over 80,000 Chinese and killed over 3,200.
With those who have faced quarantine expected to return to domestic megacities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and others, authorities will likely shift the focus of prevention and containment toward addressing domestic relapses and cases imported from abroad.
Meanwhile in the United States, coronavirus cases continue to surge as hospitals and clinics run low on crucial medical supplies including, masks, gloves, goggles, and hospital gowns, while many Americans simultaneously remain skeptical about the gravity of the health crisis and the need for self-quarantining or social distancing.
Skeptics include U.S. President Donald Trump, who announced Tuesday, “America will be open for business very soon,” suggesting that social distancing guidelines could be lifted prior to Easter Day, April 12, in the interests of boosting the struggling economy of the U.S.
The president, who suggested last week that the CoViD-19 crisis could endure through the entire summer, also expressed his belief—unsupported by much of the medical community—that the U.S. would turn a corner in the fight against the pandemic “a lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting. … We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”
Our people want to return to work. They will practice Social Distancing and all else, and Seniors will be watched over protectively & lovingly. We can do two things together. THE CURE CANNOT BE WORSE (by far) THAN THE PROBLEM! Congress MUST ACT NOW. We will come back strong!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2020
So far, there have been at least 46,724 confirmed cases across the U.S.
The comments from Trump about reopening the country for business also coincide with comments from the World Health Organization (WHO) that the U.S. could soon become the new flashpoint for the global pandemic. WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said:
“We are now seeing a very large acceleration in cases in the U.S. So it does have that potential [to become the centre of the pandemic].”