The first known case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was traced to Wuhan, Hubei, China, on December 1, 2019.
That was 105 days ago. Since then, the sweep of the virus across China was devastating. In the Hubei province alone, there were 67,798 confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
But the virus — which shut down businesses and industries as it spread across China — began to level off in the Hubei province in the past couple of weeks. And while there were 3,099 deaths in Hubei, 55,094 people there recovered from the virus.
Late last week, residents of Hubei province began returning to work as factories and businesses reopened.
“Food processors, manufacturers and other businesses essential for providing daily necessities in Wuhan, the city in the province where the coronavirus emerged in December, can reopen, the Hubei provincial government announced,” The Washington Times reported. “Construction also has gradually resumed on housing and public infrastructure projects in China as the country tries to bring employees back to work while still containing the epidemic.”
In a video that went viral, medical workers in the province are seen removing their medical masks.
“Chinese medical workers who have been fighting the [coronavirus] day and night in Wuhan celebrated the closing of the last temporary hospital in Wuhan,” said a post on Twitter. “The reported [COVID-19] cases went from a surge in February of 15,000 in one day to only 15 this week.”
Chinese medical workers who have been fighting the #coronavirus day and night in Wuhan celebrated the closing of the last temporary hospital in Wuhan.
— redfish (@redfishstream) March 13, 2020
The video has been viewed more than 14 million times.
Chinese President Xi Jinping even visited the city of Wuhan last week, sending a message that the virus is under control. He dropped by the city on Tuesday, when China recorded its lowest number of infections, just 19.
During his visit, Xi declared that the spread of the disease had been “basically curbed” in Hubei province and Wuhan.
“Hubei and Wuhan have been the very most decisive battleground in this struggle to contain the epidemic,” Xi said in remarks reported by state media late Tuesday. “Through arduous efforts, there has been a promising turn in epidemic containment in Hubei and Wuhan, and we’ve achieved important interim results.”
Xi also visited Huoshenshan hospital, a temporary facility that was built in just 10 days.
Wuhan “may have zero new cases by the end of March if we work harder and if nothing sudden comes up,” Li Lanjuan, director of China’s State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, told reporters Wednesday, The Times reported.
China took restrictive measures to stem the spread of the virus, but it’s unclear if the steps taken in the U.S. will lead to the same results.
Dr. Gustavo Ferrer, a lung specialist at Aventura Hospital in Florida, told the Times that while cases in the U.S. are only just beginning, they will plateau in the next couple of weeks.
“We should be encouraged, but we should remain vigilant,” Dr. Ferrer said. “Being aware is extremely important because when things are going down we tend to lower our guards, and this is when we are not prepared for any of this.”