Wuhan is accelerating to recuperate from a two-month lockdown and idle business as the hard-hit city in the COVID-19 outbreak sets to lift outbound travel restriction on Wednesday.
The ease of restriction marks an important milestone in China's battle against the disease which has been under control nationwide. It proved effective for the country to take strict measures and mounting efforts to curb the virus spread.
Long incubation and mild symptoms make the virus grow fast and difficult to detect. So the government initiated a much wider range of examination to determine the infected, critically-ill patients and those who should be in two-week quarantine.
It also built make-shift hospitals to accommodate mild patients and called for communities to deliver necessities to families in isolation. As for COVID-19 patients in serious condition, the country spared no efforts to treat and tend them. Medical aid teams from each provincial-level region and protective materials delivered by diverse parties concentrated in the worst-hit Hubei Province to help combat the outbreak.
Another key in virus containment measures lies in China's decision to lock down the epicenter Wuhan. The measure hurts the economy, but with hindsight, it helped prevent the virus transmit and won time for the government to gather enough medical supplies for treatment.
Experts warn of two potential risks China should heed. One is the imported cases. As of Monday, the Chinese mainland had reported a total of 983 imported cases, which is on the rise. Another one is the transmission of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, with dozens of new cases under medical observation this week. As a result, over 70 communities in Wuhan dropped the "virus-free" title to alarm the residents.
Other cities also watch closely. "The epidemic prevention and control in Beijing will probably become a long-term normal," a spokesperson for the municipal government said on Sunday. Some cities in South China's Guangdong Province, the cornerstone of manufacturing, elevated the danger level.
The pandemic still struck more nations when the tally of infected people globally topped 1.3 million by Monday, with a total of 73,917 deaths, according to the data compiled by Johns Hopkins. The US coronavirus death toll surpassed 10,000 at the start of the week, while the crisis in Britain deepened as the prime minister was moved to intensive care on Tuesday. Some hard-hit countries, including Spain, Italy, India and Russia, vowed to impose stricter bans on movement to fend off the disease.
Nonetheless, the trade-off between saving lives and protecting economy are agonizing decisions for leaders to make. "But the world should learn from China's thorough isolation measures to flatten the virus curve at the first place," said David Ho, a Columbia University professor and infectious disease specialist. "The shelter-in-place and social distance did little use to control the contagion. Harsh orders similar to Wuhan's lockdown are more helpful to contain the virus spread."
Nations that are battered by the virus should adopt more comprehensive and serious measures, in line with their own situations, to prioritize people's health and take control of the outbreak.