In the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where cases of the novel coronavirus were first detected late last year, the mood was one of triumph this week, as residents finally emerged from months of lockdown.
This was reflected in state media, as the city which once characterized China’s failures to contain the coronavirus now symbolized the country’s recovery, in stark contrast to the chaos that is rapidly unfolding in much of the rest of the world.
“Like a phoenix, Wuhan reemerges from dark coronavirus lockdown in warm spring,” read a headline in the state-backed Global Times, while other outlets ran stories about the city “gradually getting back to normal,” including a boom in weddings.
But under that confident facade, there were signs of a concern felt across Asia: that any recovery from the virus may be fleeting, and a new wave of infections — and the lockdowns, death and misery that follow in their wake — may be just over the horizon.
In Wuhan itself, residents who have undergone testing have been issued QR codes through a government app. Only those with green codes — meaning they are symptom free and passed a coronavirus test — have been permitted to leave their homes. Anyone without such a code will still face restrictions on their movement.
Singapore on Friday reported 287 new cases of the virus, the city-state’s largest single-day increase since the pandemic began. Only three of the cases were imported, pointing to a major new domestic outbreak.
Earlier this week, Singaporean authorities banned all social gatherings until May 4, and new laws designed to act as a “circuit breaker” have imposed draconian new punishments on anyone found breaching social-distancing or quarantine orders.
The semi-autonomous Chinese city of Hong Kong saw a similar spike in cases after it relaxed restrictions, with many infections imported from overseas. Officials have since ramped up controls again, and urged people to be more stringent in exercising social distancing and infection control. While this has shown some success, health officials said Thursday that vigilance is still required.