From lockdown to almost virus-free: one year after the lockdown in Wuhan | NOW

It is January 23, 2020 when the train stations and airports in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan will be closed to contain the spread of the – still mysterious – corona virus. A look back at a year in which Wuhan was locked for almost two months, but also a year in which 2021 was heralded with partying crowds.

December 2019: First infections detected in Wuhan

In Wuhan, a metropolis in the Chinese province of Hubei, a number of people are hospitalized who appear to be infected with a still unknown virus.

In addition to lung complaints, a number of these patients have one more thing in common: they have all recently been on the same market. The Chinese authorities decide to close the relevant market, the Huanan fish market, for investigation.

After the mysterious virus has been found in dozens of people, China makes a report to the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31, 2019.

January 2020: Number of diagnosed infections is increasing, first death

On January 5, 2020, WHO will release a public statement for the first time about the cluster in Wuhan. In the statement, the research institute says that based on the first research results from the Chinese, there is still no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from human to human.

Meanwhile, the number of people diagnosed with the virus has risen to 59. A few days later, on January 11, a 61-year-old resident of the city dies from the effects of the virus.

Preliminary results from the lab indicate a new type of coronavirus, which will be named 2019-nCoV.

After the virus is diagnosed in a number of healthcare workers in the city, Chinese authorities declare for the first time on January 20 that the transmission of the virus can also take place from person to person.

January 23, 2020: Wuhan goes into lockdown

The number of established infections has now risen considerably. On January 22, some 571 residents of Hubei province tested positive for the virus and a total of 18 people died from the effects of the virus.

To stop further spread of the virus, China is adopting the rigorous decision to hermetically seal all of Wuhan from the virus: the first lockdown as a result of the virus is a fact.

On Thursday, January 23 at 10:00 AM, China will shut down public transport in Wuhan and close the city’s airport. The approximately 11 million inhabitants of the city are asked to stay at home and only enter or leave the city in exceptional cases. Wearing masks and keeping a sufficient distance is mandatory.

February 2020: Peak in the number of infections detected during lockdown

At the same time as the lockdown, Wuhan is also starting massive testing for the virus. The city is also building a new hospital at lightning speed: Huashenshan. On February 4 – eight days after the start of construction – the hospital will receive the first patients.

While the city is in lockdown, it will experience a peak in the number of infections diagnosed at the beginning of this month: more than 1,500 residents of the city test positive for the virus every day.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is also falling under the spell of the virus. At the end of February, experts from the WHO will travel to the metropolis to research the virus and gain experience in its treatment.

April 8, 2020: Lockdown canceled

The very strict lockdown seems to be paying off. No new infections are reported for the first time on 18 March. The authorities consider the situation surrounding the virus to be under control on March 28, so that parts of the metro line will be put back into use and city borders reopened.

More than a week later, on April 8, the lockdown will be lifted definitively. At that time, Wuhan was hermetically cut off from the outside world for more than two months.

May 2020: Mass testing should prevent second wave

Wuhan decides to start a large-scale testing program from May 13, which aims to test all residents of the city. The reason for this is a new cluster of infected patients, which was diagnosed a week earlier.

Massive testing of the city’s residents should prevent the virus from spreading again. In early June, the city will complete the massive testing operation. Three hundred inhabitants are then tested positive for the virus.

It is striking that these positive tests are not included in the official statistics, because these persons did not show any symptoms. China at the time only reports that people test positive for the virus if they show (or did show) symptoms. This also creates large-scale criticisms of the reliability of China’s corona figures.

Summer and fall 2020: Wuhan returns to ‘normal’ life

It remains relatively quiet from Wuhan, where the virus is apparently under control. Hardly any infections have been diagnosed for a long time and daily life seems to be able to continue.

December 31, 2020: Many people on the street during New Year’s Eve

It must be an unreal sight for many Dutch people: while in our country the turn of the year should be celebrated in a sober way, the millions of residents of Wuhan together ring in the new year. Mouth masks were worn and residents still seem to be ‘cautious’ after the massive outbreak in early 2020, according to a correspondent of the news agency Reuters.

Residents of Wuhan ring in the new year en masse.

Residents of Wuhan ring in the new year en masse.

Residents of Wuhan ring in the new year en masse.

Photo: ANP

January 23, 2021: And now?

The spread of the virus in Wuhan seems to be under control, as in the rest of China. This is because China intervenes when infections with the virus are found. For example, a number of Chinese cities, including the metropolis of Shijiazhuang, have recently been locked and residents have been tested en masse to prevent further spread.

Incidentally, now, more than a year later, it is still not clear how the virus could have originated. A team from the WHO traveled to the city in early January 2021 to investigate the origin of the virus.


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