Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 51, 18 March 2020

Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
Harini Madhusudan

The numbers

As of 18 March 2020, Wuhan remains one of the worst affected regions. Of the 200,102 cases so far, over 80,000 cases have been from China, with 69,614 cases recovered and 3,237 deaths. The count of new cases peaked in the first half of February, and since 6 March 2020, there has been a drastic fall in the number of new cases. Many of the makeshift centres in China have begun to close down after the fall in the number of cases.

Government initiatives

China adopted unprecedented and aggressive measures as the number of cases escalated in China. They ensured extreme lockdowns to bring the crisis under control in the country. One of the first measures was to suspend trains and block all roads to Wuhan and 15 other cities in Hubei. Strict instructions were circulated to the people in China to stay home and leave home only for medical assistance or food. 

According to the New York Times, up to half of China's population; 760 million people were confined to their homes, for over two months. This confinement has been helpful in containing the spread, from having thousands of new cases in a day to less than a dozen new cases daily. However, the flaw in China's response was that it began late and hence had to face the massive spread of the outbreak. 

Public responses

Strong measures to reduce contact among people and travel bans have helped slow-down the spread of the virus worldwide. The best success story is that of Singapore; in terms of public responses, China may be considered as the second-best in containing the virus considering the fact that it started there and spread before any knowledge of it was known. 

Cancellation of work, schools, and events have caused a lot of chaos among the people, especially because the spread came at the same time as the Chinese New Year, many of those who were displaced remained in the same place due to shutdowns. Classes were suspended for a while, after which online courses have been recommended for students. With the fall in the number of cases, there have been measures to ease the restrictions placed; however, it is unclear if the situation would return/worsen once the movement begins. 

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