Coronavirus: China is slowly returning to normal - how did it get to this position?

23 March 2020, 16:15

As the UK continues to take drastic action to reduce the spread of coronavirus, China, the country where the disease originated, is slowly returning to normal.

Today marks the first time in weeks people have been seen returning to the streets after being locked up in their houses to try and curb the spread.

Photographs from Shanghai see a couple posing for wedding photographs, while over in Hong Kong people can be seen walking the streets again.

So how did China get to this position?

What is the number of cases and deaths currently in China?

The number of reported cases in China has been decreasing since mid-February - and since 6 March, the number of new infected is under 100, according to figures from Johns Hopkins.

On 22 March, there were 92 new cases of COVID-19, six deaths and 505 recoveries recorded in China.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, 81,397 people in China have caught the virus, 4% of them (3,265) died after contracting the disease, while 89% (72,362) have recovered in the country.

Italy - the second worst-hit country with the virus - has recorded a total of 59,138 cases and it has now overtaken China.

While there are six people infected per 100,000 population in China, there are 98 per 100,000 in Italy.

The fatality rate in Italy is also higher than the China's. While 4% of people in China died, 9% of those who contracted the virus has died in Italy, amounting to 5,476.

About 12% of those infected have recovered in Italy, which is 7,024 people. This percentage is far from the Chinese figure of 89%, but the outbreak in Italy started much later.

Italy passed 100 recorded cases on 23 February, just over three weeks from when the first case was reported on 31 January, while China reached this figure mid-January.

The UK government has consistently warned that the UK will face the same devastating figures as Italians if people do not abide by the social distancing rules.

What is the timeline of events in China and when did it go into lockdown?

On 31 December last year, the Chinese Government announced the first cases of COVID-19, a strand of coronavirus.

It was believed to have originated in a food market in Wuhan, located in the Hubei province of China.

At the time, there was no evidence that the virus was readily spread by humans. Health officials in China said they were monitoring it to prevent the outbreak from developing into something more severe.

Eleven days later, the virus became deadly after a 61-year-old man, who had abdominal tumours and chronic liver disease, died after contracting the disease.

By 20 January, it had spread to major places such as Bejing and Shenzhen. On 23 January Wuhan and other cities in Hubei were placed into lockdown.

How did they manage to tackle the disease?

China has been very stringent with its battle of the virus. It was praised by the World Health Organisation for tackling the virus head-on after previously being criticised for suppressing information and downplaying the risk of the disease.

Measures used to combat the virus included building extra healthcare facilities to treat ill patients; Using technology to help investigators tackle how the virus was spreading, where it was spreading to and making sure the travel restrictions were obeyed; the closure of public areas.

Other efforts - recognised by authors Dr Bruce Aylward and Dr Wannian Liang who wrote the report for the WHO - included support from the community to those who were ill, extra hospital staff hired and supplies given, early clinical trials and reopening schools and offices again quickly to boost the economy.

Since then, it has cautiously been allowing different areas to return to normal once the number of cases slowly began subsiding.

Has China returned to normality?

Earlier this month, towns and cities surrounding Wuhan began relaxing their rules around social isolation as the number of daily cases dropped and recoveries increased.

Sunday marked the local authorities allowing residents in Wuhan to return to work, provided they didn't have a temperature, had a been given the all-clear of having the virus and a certificate from their employer.

Officials said the city would be "gradually" reopened and public transportation would resume.

Those who have also been stuck in Wuhan for the past two months could also now apply to leave.

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