Can Wuhan Become an Empty City Again!

Published July 2nd, 2022 - 09:25 GMT
The old Wuhan days of lockdown
The old Wuhan days of lockdown (AFP/Getty Images)

The first confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been detected in the Chinese city where the virus first emerged as President Xi Jinping reestablished his commitment to the country's draconian 'Zero Covid' policy.

A pair of port workers in Wuhan have been reported as showing signs of asymptomatic infection in the first confirmed cases there in a month.

China is now expected to undergo its fourth wave of mass testing to continue to isolate areas where cases are being recorded, after Anhui province reported a surge of 107 infections on Friday and the county of Lingbi was locked down.

Overall the country recorded 163 infections on Thursday, the highest count in the past three weeks.

The news comes just days after Xi visited the sprawling city and reinstated his desire to see whole cities locked down and subject to harsh restrictions in order to contain the virus. 

President Xi will now launch an updated Zero Covid plan that will see incoming travellers and close contacts' quarantine periods halved, with mass testing and the use of lockdowns expected to ramp up.

Increased surveillance and earlier, more aggressive restrictions are also expected to be utilised by the Chinese leader. 

Beijing and Shanghai both reported zero new Covid cases yesterday as Li Qiang, Shanghai's Party Committee Secretary, praised the city's trying two-month lockdown as he declared victory over the virus.

The Chinese capital escaped the same draconian restrictions by launching a mass-testing regime and requiring proof of negative PCR test within 72 hours to enter public spaces. 

An American scientist piecing together the early spread of the virus traced the first human infection of Covid to a woman who worked at the Huanan Seafood Market. 

The woman, known as Wei Guixian, became ill with mysterious flu-like symptoms on December 11, 2019, since confirmed to be Covid. 

Dr Michael Worobey, the University of Arizona evolutionary biologist who published the report, said around half of the first cluster of cases were linked to the market and Ms Guixian. 

The slaughter market — which traded dozens of exotic animals like pangolins — was originally touted as the source of Covid because of the high risk of cross-species infection. 

The World Health Organisation had challenged this assessment, and placed the first confirmed case around 20 miles south of Wuhan.

While the rest of the developed world freely opened their doors to tourists, trade and the return of normality, China has set itself apart by adhering to a rigorous Zero Covid plan.

Declaring President Xi this week declared 'herd immunity' as an impossible task for a population the size of China, saying it would have 'unimaginable' consequences.

The president's Communist Party have consistently used the country's low death rate as proof of the party's success and as evidence their policies have worked.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation, faced heavy criticism for his handling of the pandemic which was deemed to be 'China-centric' as he heaped praise on China for its response to the Covid outbreak.

After meeting Chinese president Xi Jinping in January 20202, he said: 'I was very encouraged and impressed by the president’s detailed knowledge of the outbreak and his personal involvement in the outbreak. 

'This was for me a very rare leadership.' 

But he has since been censored by Chinese state media for criticising the country's current zero Covid policy in May this year. 

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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