Covid-19 Returns To Wuhan And Countries Where Lockdown Has Eased

Shanghai, China - April 16, 2020: People return to the subways in Shanghai as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rumble on. atiger/Shutterstock

Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak began, has reported a fresh cluster of Covid-19 cases over a month after lockdown restrictions were eased. Now looking to fight off a second wave, authorities are hoping to test all 11 million people living in the city, according to state media reports. 

The city's first confirmed Covid-19 case since early April was reported in an 89-year-old man on Saturday, while more than five asymptomatic cases from the same residential community were reported on Monday, according to Xinhua state news agency. 

Prior to this, Wuhan had seen no new cases since April 3 and its hospitals had been empty of Covid-19 patients for weeks. While the new cluster is small, the reemergence represents the real fear of the much-hyped “second wave”. State authorities hope to ward off this fate through large-scale testing. Wuhan's health authority told the Global Times they have drawn up plans to test all of Wuhan's residents in the coming weeks, although some public health experts have criticized the plan as being unnecessary and costly.  

Beyond China, many nations that were celebrated for stamping out the outbreak have seen a resurgence of cases, often after their lockdown measures were eased. Singapore, previously heralded as a success story for its containment strategy, has seen its Covid-19 case numbers surge in recent weeks, predominantly among foreign workers living in dormitories.

South Korea, which quelled its initial Covid-19 outbreak through explementary contact tracing, now has over 120 new cases after an infected man visited bars and clubs in Itaewon, a popular nightlife district of Seoul. The cluster saw certain lockdown measures immediately reissued, including the closure of bars and clubs, and put health authorities on alert over a possibly bigger outbreak.

“It's not over until it's over,” Moon Jae-in, the President of South Korea, said in a televised speech on Sunday, May 10. 

“We are in a prolonged war. I ask everyone to comply with safety precautions and rules until the situation is over even after resuming daily lives.”

The World Health Organization has recommended three quotas that countries should fulfill before easing their lockdown restrictions. However, as these examples show, even countries that appear to have “beaten” the pandemic continue to walk a wobbly tightrope. 

“Releasing lockdowns is both complex and difficult. Over the weekend we saw signs of the challenges that may lie ahead,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said on May 11.

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