The number of case in China has dropped from 2000 to several tens a day, and the country is recovering, so the rest of the world try to learn from the Chinese model how the coronavirus outbreak could be stopped. Even critics of China are wondering how Beijing managed to cope with the coronavirus epidemic; when compared with the situation in Italy it seems that the authorities have lost control.
And the news about China's success comes from everywhere. Over 70% of people infected with the new coronavirus in China have been cured, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced yesterday, saying the Asian giant "is about to control the epidemic".
Moreover, "out of the 80,000 cases reported in China, over 70% were cured," WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told in Geneva at a press conference.
So, as coronavirus infections are spreading around the world, the number of new cases registered in China has dropped dramatically, prompting some observers to try to learn from Beijing, writes The Guardian.
Yesterday, the National Health Commission of China reported 40 new cases, the lowest daily level since the start of epidemic monitoring, in January. According to official figures, almost no new infections have been recorded in the rest of China, outside Hubei province, which is the most severely affected.
China's response to the virus has included strict measures of social distancing, the enforcement of quarantine for more than a month in entire cities in Wuhan province and annexed areas, which remain closed, extensive public oversight of citizens, and encouraging compliance.
WHO appreciates China's efforts
China's efforts were praised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which concludes in a report last month that the country's "bold approach" has changed the course of an rapidly escalating epidemic. The report adds: "Faced with a hitherto unknown virus, China has made perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease-limiting effort in history."
Experts say the largest contributing factor to stop the spread of the virus in China was the aggressive use of quarantine. In Wuhan, authorities turned stadiums and other such buildings into quarantine centers and built more than two dozen temporary hospitals for patients with less severe symptoms.
WHO also says that China's most effective measures have been "extremely proactive surveillance" for case detection, extended testing and immediate isolation of patients, rigorous follow-up and isolation of close patient contacts, and "an exceptional degree of understanding and acceptance from the population” for such measures.
The partial reopening of the Disneyland and Ikea stores, as well as the closure of temporary hospitals, are signs that indicate China's gradual return to normal after a month and a half of restrictions due to the coronavirus epidemic, notes the prestigious international agency AFP.
Thus, the epidemic in China has been showing signs of receding for more than a few weeks, while the virus continues to spread to the rest of the world.
Even in Wuhan (the center of the country), the city with 11 million inhabitants, considered the center of the epidemic, several signs indicate a gradual end to the quarantine measures imposed on January 23.
The sign of the recurrence of the epidemic in this city, where by far the most cases of contamination in the country were registered, 14 of the 16 campaign hospitals opened for the contaminated patients have already been closed.
Two hospitals, one set up in a factory, the other on a stadium, closed doors on Sunday after discharging 61 healed patients.
"China has fought this virus at a very high price"
In an interview with the French publication Le Point, Lawrence Lau, professor of economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, points out that "the epidemic outside Hubei province is now completely controlled."
He said that quarantine was necessary: "The Hubei blockade was good for China and good for the world ... When you have unidentified infected people traveling through a city of 11 million inhabitants, this is a hopeless case and much more bad. Look at the rest of the world. To me, what happened on the cruise ship "Diamond Princess" is a shame. How could I let such a thing happen? About 4,000 passengers and crew members, and now 700 are infected. And some are still stuck on board! The outbreak is out of control in South Korea. I don't know if Italy will be able to control it. If it explodes in Paris, you have to tell people to stay home and be careful, "Lawrence Lau compared the way China controlled the epidemic to how other states did.
The professor noted that "China has taken good care of this, because it has the administrative power and social discipline to do so. Can another developed country cope with it? We all know that a developing country cannot. Iran is in a very bad position. We are about to witness a humanitarian disaster there. And it will spill over into the rest of the Middle East. The death rate in Iran is exceptionally high. This is due to the lack of medical staff, infrastructure and medicines. We can't let that happen.”
Furthermore, Lawrence Lau notes that, “as China is doing very well to control this epidemic, Chinese authorities may soon expel or quarantine people from other countries. Because China has fought this virus at a very high price, and once it is controlled, it will not risk the epidemic starting again.”