Good news? It’s great news — if we can trust the source. The city of Wuhan, ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic, reported late yesterday that they have found no new cases in the city through community spread. That gives some hope that the arc of spread has its limits, and that intervention can make a difference.
That is, if one relies on China’s honesty and transparency in the COVID-19 crisis they amplified through deceit and cover-ups:
By the way, not all of the news this morning is good. By the time readers see this, Italy’s death toll will pass China’s:
Thursday was a day of contrasts on the front lines of the battle against the new coronavirus. In a sign of hope, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported no new homegrown infections, but in a stark warning for the world, Italy appeared set to surpass China’s death toll from the virus.
The two milestones were a dramatic illustration of how much the global outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States. They also showed how the arc of contagion can vary in different nations, as Italy with 60 million people braces to see more carnage than China, a nation of 1.4 billion.
Italy registered 2,978 deaths on Wednesday after another 475 people died. Given that Italy has been averaging more than 350 deaths a day since March 15, it’s likely to overtake China’s 3,249 dead when Thursday’s figures are released at day’s end. …
Wuhan once was the place where thousands lay sick or dying in hurriedly constructed hospitals, the first place in the world where medical facilities appeared overwhelmed. But Chinese authorities said Thursday that all 34 new cases recorded over the previous day had been imported from abroad.
“Today, we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort,” said Jiao Yahui, a senior inspector at the National Health Commission.
Even the news from China might not be as bright as one would think. Even if they’re being truthful, the path to success is going to be very long and very hard. Beijing shut down Hubei province in January, cutting off the region and locking down residents in Wuhan particularly. It took two months to stop community spread, if indeed it has stopped. It might not stay stopped if they start letting people mingle again until they test everyone in the area and identity all asymptomatic carriers.
We’ll find out soon enough, although not directly in Wuhan:
The Chinese city of Ezhou in Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, has relaxed restrictions on outbound travel for non-resident citizens within its borders, but they will not be allowed to travel to Beijing, it said on Wednesday.
The city government said on its official website that people holding residence cards for regions outside Ezhou, excluding those returning to Beijing, would be permitted to drive out of the city once they have filled out a declaration.
It said the measures were aimed at helping people stranded in the city to return home or to work safely and in an orderly manner. Ezhou has reported a total of 1,394 cases of infection and 57 deaths.
Or maybe we won’t find out. Let’s not forget how China got into this situation in the first place, too. Beijing could have contained this outbreak with some quick action and transparency. Instead, as Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian points out, they wasted three weeks on lies and cover-ups that launched disease vectors all over the globe:
Axios has compiled a timeline of the earliest weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in China, highlighting when the cover-up started and ended — and showing how, during that time, the virus already started spreading around the world, including to the United States.
Why it matters: A study published in March indicated that if Chinese authorities had acted three weeks earlier than they did, the number of coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 95% and its geographic spread limited.
This timeline, compiled from information reported by the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post and other sources, shows that China’s cover-up and the delay in serious measures to contain the virus lasted about three weeks.
Why this really matters is that Xi Jinping has his government spreading ridiculous propaganda that the Wuhan virus originated in the US. China also now wants everyone to believe that their handling of the crisis has somehow saved lives and provided a sterling example of containment to the US and the rest of the world. “China is now trying to create a narrative that it’s an example of how to handle this crisis,” Allen-Ebrahimian concludes, “when in fact its early actions led to the virus spreading around the globe.”
I’d certainly love to believe that China has finally shut down the Wuhan virus epicenter. When that data comes from independent observers and not Xi’s flunkies, it’ll be much easier to celebrate.