Chinese state media on Friday quoted “central government experts” who predicted the city of Wuhan, ground zero for the worldwide coronavirus epidemic, could have zero new infections by the end of March, while other cities in Hubei province will reach zero infections even sooner.
The state-run Global Times quoted Chinese health experts telling those living outside Hubei that they will be able to “take off their masks and resume normal life by the end of April,” while Hubei residents will have to wait another month after that.
According to Chinese officials, every city in Hubei except for Wuhan reported zero new infections on Thursday, while Wuhan reported only 126.
“Zero reported new cases is not absolute. Sporadic new cases will emerge,” qualified government disease expert Zhang Boli of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He did not offer a firm answer about whether new coronavirus infections would chronically appear for the indefinite future.
Other officials said the special hospitals built in Wuhan to deal with the outbreak will probably be treating recovered patients for the next two years.
Wuhan residents do not appear much impressed with these rosy predictions. Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan visited Wuhan on Thursday and was openly heckled by residents who chanted, “Fake, fake, everything is fake.” Among other complaints, the locals complained their government is only pretending to supply cities under coronavirus lockdown with fresh food.
Chinese clinics are reporting more repeat infections and relapses, including a 36-year-old man who died of respiratory failure in Wuhan on Monday, five days after he was discharged from a coronavirus hospital.
The report of his death, which included a photo of his death certificate listing the coronavirus as cause of death, was quickly removed from Chinese media. Before it disappeared, the report also quoted an emergency notice issued by Wuhan hospital officials warning about a surge of discharged patients returning with new coronavirus symptoms.