By Wang Qi
New infections dropping under 200 a day and the shutdown of makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, have prompted analysts to optimistically predict that the epidemic could be curbed by the end of April.
The National Health Commission (NHC) said China’s epidemic prevention and control efforts are shifting from a comprehensive to a precise mode, centering around community prevention and control and medical treatment, following a morale-lifting situation against the COVID-19 outbreak reported earlier on Monday, March 2.
The rise of coronavirus infections in Wuhan is being curbed, and the situation in the rest of the regions in China is positive. Work in the next phase is to balance epidemic control and restoration of economic and social activities, changing the all-round control strategy to a precise mode, NHC spokesperson Mi Feng said at a press briefing on Monday.
Analysts told the Global Times that there should be only scattered patients next month in Wuhan’s hospitals, and the epidemic is expected to end by the end of April at the current pace.
The NHC reported 202 new infections on Monday in the last 24 hours, the lowest point since January 23, with six outside Hubei Province.
The recovery rates in 31 provincial-level regions nationwide exceed 55 percent, marking an 18-day rise. The recovery rate outside Hubei rose to 82.84 percent as of Monday.
East China’s Zhejiang Province on Monday announced it would downgrade its epidemic emergency response level, marking the 19th region to make such an adjustment amid the easing situation.
Wuhan reported 193 new cases of novel coronavirus infection on Monday, the first time the number fell under 200 in 34 days. The total of cured patients in Hubei surpassed existing patients for the first time. Fourteen cities in the province reported zero new cases.
On Sunday, a makeshift hospital in Wuhan’s Qiaokou district closed after discharging the last 34 patients. Another two makeshift hospitals in Wuhan discharged 272 cured patients on Sunday. Cured people will be sent to designated spots for quarantine for two-week observations before returning home.
The development of epidemic control in Hubei and Wuhan inspired experts’ optimism over a final victory, which could come earlier than expected.
“Wuhan can take a breath as the epidemic has eased, and the beds in hospitals are sufficient now,” Yang Zhanqiu, a Wuhan-based virologist, told the Global Times on Monday.
Yang stressed that policies should change in a timely way in line with the epidemic situation, especially when things are getting better.
Clustered infections are unlikely to occur under the current measures we took, said Yang. “The epidemic will end at the end of April or even earlier than that,” if we take the rising temperatures as a factor.
According to Yang, the key to the present work is to control people’s movements and work to avoid unnecessary contact, as well as applying different types of management to different groups of people.