Wuhan declared free of Covid-19 as last patients leave hospital after months-long struggle against coronavirus

28-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 7:04 AM Print This Post

The city of Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, no longer has any Covid-19 patients in hospital after the last 12 were discharged on Sunday.

Their release ended a four-month nightmare for the city, where the disease was first detected in December. The number of patients being treated for Covid-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, peaked on February 18 at 38,020 nearly 10,000 of whom were in severe or critical condition.

“With the joint efforts of Wuhan and the national medical aid given to Hubei province, all cases of Covid-19 in Wuhan were cleared as of April 26,” Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission said on Sunday afternoon.

The announcement came only one day after the city discharged the last patient who had been in a severe condition. That patient also was the last severe case in Hubei province.

The last patient discharged from Wuhan Chest Hospital, a 77-year-old man surnamed Ding, twice tested negative for Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and was released at noon on Sunday.

“I missed my family so much!” Ding told Changjing Daily.

Another unidentified patient exclaimed as he left the hospital: “The air outside is so fresh! The weather is so good today!”

Wuhan faced a long journey to bring its patient count down to zero.

The city of 11 million, the capital of Hubei province and a transport hub for central China, was put under a strict lockdown on January 23 that barred anyone from entering or exiting the city without official approval for 76 days until it was officially lifted on April 8.

Residents were ordered to stay in their apartments as the city stopped public transport and banned private cars from city streets. As the epidemic worsened, more than 42,000 medical staff from across the country were sent to the city and to Hubei province to help ease the burden on the local health care system.

Wuhan was the hardest hit city in China, accounting for 50,333 of the 82,827 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases recorded in China. More than 4,600 died in the country from the disease.

On March 13, the city reported for the first time that there were no new suspected cases of the infection, and five days later there were no confirmed cases.

The number of discharged patients bottomed out at 39.1 per cent at the end of February, gradually climbing to 92.2 per cent by last Thursday.

“Having the patients in the hospital cleared on April 26 marks a major achievement for the city’s Covid-19 treatment,” the Wuhan Health Commission said in a statement.

However, having no severe cases in hospital does not mean all the discharged patients will require no further treatment as they may still need further care.

“Clearing all the severe cases marks a decisive victory for the battle to safeguard Wuhan,” health minister Ma Xiaowei told state broadcaster China Central Television on Saturday.

“Some patients who have other conditions are being treated in specialised hospitals. It has been properly arranged.”

Ten patients aged between 42 and 85 who have been declared coronavirus-free are still in intensive care at the city’s Tongji Hospital where they are being treated for kidney problems and other complications arising from Covid-19. Some still need ventilators to help them breathe.

These 10 patients are under 24-hour care, with 190 nurses on four-hour rotations. There are other patients in a similar condition in two other hospitals in Wuhan, according to the Hubei Broadcasting and Television Network.

However, the discharge of the last batch of Covid-19 patients does not mean that the risk of infection is gone.

The city reported 20 new cases of people testing positive for Sars-CoV-2, the official name for the coronavirus that causes the disease, but who do not yet show symptoms.

There are 535 such carriers under medical observation. Past data shows some of these asymptomatic carriers will develop symptoms, and so will be counted as Covid-19 patients under China’s diagnosis and treatment plan.

China’s coronavirus infection curve has flattened out with about 694 imported cases of Covid-19 on top of about 800 locally transmitted ones now under treatment.

The national health commission spokesman warned that people still need to be on high alert as the virus is continuing to spread around the globe, with no sign yet of a slowdown.

“[We] must not drop our guard and loosen up. [We] must discover cases in time and deal with them quickly,” Mi said, citing the continued pressure from cases imported by people returning from overseas.

“The next step will be to carry out the requirements of the central government and continue to guard against imported cases and a rebound of domestic transmitted cases.”



Category: China

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