By David Cyranoski
For the first time in months, the Chinese province of Hubei, where the coronavirus first emerged, is getting attention for a good reason. COVID-19 cases there have dropped to practically zero, and last week authorities lifted travel restrictions in and out of the province, some 60 days after much of it was dramatically locked down. Now scientists — and the rest of the world — are watching closely to see whether easing the intense measures to keep people apart results in an emergence of new cases. An early analysis suggests that, so far, these fears have not come to pass.
“It’s time to relax the lockdown, but we need to be alert for a potential second wave of infections,” says Ben Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, who will be following the situation in China. If a second wave comes, Cowling would expect to see it emerge by the end of April.
How things unfold in Hubei — and across China — will be relevant to many European nations and some US states that have restricted travel inside their borders, closed most businesses, schools and universities and told people to stay at home, in an attempt to halt the pathogen’s spread. Modelling of the UK outbreak suggests that the country’s social distancing measures, including school and university closures, might be needed for large parts of the next two years to keep the proportion of people with severe COVID-19 infections in hospital at manageable levels.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.