Chinese primary students in Hangzhou return to school with headgear inspired by the Song dynasty to remind them of social distancing. Photo via Weibo.
On April 26, three months and three days after Wuhan entered an unprecedented lockdown to deal with tens of thousands of cases of a rapidly spreading infectious disease, the final COVID-19 patient in the city was discharged from the hospital.
The milestone has bolstered Beijing’s confidence that it has essentially contained COVID-19. Xinhua News Agency called Wuhan’s hospitalizations reaching zero “a new testament that the local spread of COVID-19 in the country has basically been curbed.” Vice-premier Sūn Chūnlán 孙春兰, the Politburo member who served as the most senior government official dispatched to Wuhan for the duration of the crisis, was also recalled to Beijing in another indication that authorities believe the epidemic is fully controlled, according to the SCMP.
But even in Wuhan, COVID-19 still spreads. The city’s municipal health commission reported (in Chinese) that on the same day the last patient was discharged from the hospital, 19 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were diagnosed, and 554 people are under medical observation.
The number of COVID-19 tests in Wuhan has doubled since the city’s lockdown ended on April 8, per Reuters. About 60,000–65,000 are now being tested every day, primarily to “ensure that only residents who test negative leave the city.” However, in general, China is not pursuing mass testing, but rather is targeting testing toward high-risk groups, a medical official recently said at a briefing in Beijing, Reuters says.
Schools are reopening in some cities across China, including Shanghai and Beijing. One primary school in Hangzhou made waves on the internet for having its pupils wear headgear inspired by the Song dynasty to remind them of social distancing, the SCMP reports.
However, a more thorough reopening across China may have to wait until after a rescheduled meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which was postponed in March. Xinhua reported on April 26 that the Standing Committee of the NPC was “deliberating a draft decision on the convening date” of the NPC, but did not divulge details. Bloomberg suggests (porous paywall) that one set of dates in consideration is May 23–30.