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Lifting of lockdown on Hubei sends back-to-normal signal: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2020-03-24 20:00
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Medics supporting Hubei province disembark from the plane upon their arrival in Fuzhou, southeast China's Fujian province, March 24, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

Apart from its capital, Wuhan, where the restrictions on people's movement will remain in place until April 8, the lockdown on Hubei province that has been in place for two months was lifted on Wednesday.

The decision to impose the lockdown on the province was made for the good of the nation, after modeling of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus showed it would overwhelm the country's health facilities. So the decision to end the lockdown will not have been made lightly. Which means that after comprehensive and sober consideration, it is judged that the situation in the province is now effectively under control.

Although it is still too early to declare an end to the battle against the virus in Hubei as there are still 4,318 people infected with the virus being treated in local hospitals, among whom 4,268 are in Wuhan, the province has not seen a fresh local case for days, except in Wuhan where one new case was reported on Tuesday.

But as well as believing that the province, now that it has a tight grip on the epidemic, should wait no more to resume industrial production and business operations, the decision-makers must be confident that the province has the ability to prevent the virus from staging a comeback.

Ending the lockdown in Hubei and giving a date for ending that on Wuhan not only provides a ray of hope for local people that their lives will return to normal, but also signals to the rest of the country that things need to get back to normal.

With many local governments elsewhere in the country holding a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to balancing epidemic control and economic resumption, the green light that has been given to Hubei should serve to prompt them to accelerate their efforts to revive their local economies.

Meanwhile, we should never forget that it is the tremendous self-sacrifice of 60 million residents in Hubei, particularly the 12 million people in Wuhan where the number of infections accounts for 61 percent of the country's total and 77 percent of the deaths, that has effectively kept the virus from running wild nationwide. Nor the support the city and province received from home and abroad that enabled them to keep the virus on a tight rein, especially the 42,000 medical staff that rushed to the province to provide assistance.

It was these concerted efforts that won the country and the world a window of opportunity to prepare for the spread of the virus. An opportunity that, although cherished at home, was regrettably squandered in many places elsewhere.

While it is the arrival of a desperately longed-for moment in China, the reopening of Hubei should also instill confidence in those countries now engaged in their own struggles to control the virus that even before vaccines are developed, the pandemic can be tamed and put under control.

Hubei's experience shows that taking the right actions — early testing, early quarantining and early treatment — in a timely manner can bring the demon to heel.

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