By Wan Lin
Wuhan reported only one new case of coronavirus as of Monday, March 16, after seeing six consecutive days of single-digit new cases, with top Chinese epidemiologists expecting the new infections in the city to be cleared around the end of the week.
Meanwhile, the city continues defending against the coronavirus by requiring all overseas arrivals to Wuhan to undergo a 14-day quarantine at designated places starting on Tuesday, March 17.
Given the city’s prospects of clearing the new cases within the border, and strict measures to ward off imported infection risks, Wuhan was described by netizens as the “safest place” in the world against the virus.
Starting Tuesday, all overseas visitors and returning nationals to Wuhan will be sent to designated places for a 14-day quarantine, with expenses covered by themselves, according to a notification the Wuhan epidemic prevention and control group issued on Tuesday.
The city is expected to ease the epidemic down to zero new infections around March 20, said Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and expert with the National Health Commission, in an interview with Chinanews on Monday.
This expected date sounds sooner than the one Li noted a week ago, when she said Wuhan would reach zero new infections by the end of March.
The promise of zero new infections in Wuhan, the city hit hardest by the coronavirus, seems to bring hope to Chinese netizens.
“After going through a painful and tough war against COVID-19, Wuhan has now built an iron wall to guard against potential risks from the outside, with its battle-hardened people inside making efforts to curb the epidemic, which makes the city the safest place in the world,” some netizens commented.
“Wuhan has the best medical resources; its people know more than anybody else about how to prevent and control the epidemic after so many lessons with sweat and tears. The government is now imposing strict measures to protect people from imported viral risks… I cannot think of any place in the world that is safer than Wuhan now, even though it was once the most-stricken area,” wrote a Wuhan-based netizen on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media.
“The most dangerous place has turned into the safest place” was another typical comment on Wuhan’s current situation on Sina Weibo.
Despite the optimism of some people, experts maintained a cautious tone by saying it is too soon to jump to the conclusion that Wuhan is safe now.
“The city is still under lockdown with thousands of patients in treatment. There is still a long way to go before reaching the‘safe’ level,” Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the Pathogen Biology Department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
“Shifting from passive to active, Wuhan’s current anti-epidemic situation looks more like a temporary victory. But whether the victory will last, we need more time and efforts to achieve that result,” Yang said.