China reported new cases of Covid-19 coronavirus in Wuhan on Monday after a month without new infections at the pandemic’s global epicentre, offering a stark warning of the dangers of second wave.
The virus first emerged late last year, sweeping through the city and surrounding Hubei province, killing 4,600 people and sickening more than 83,000 people in China.
It subsequently spread around the world. The virus has now infected more than four million people worldwide – claiming more than 280,000 lives – and crippled the global economy.
Authorities in Wuhan imposed a lockdown in what appeared to have been a successful to halt the spread of the deadly virus.
That lockdown began to ease a month ago, as authorities said the disease was under control, most recently with children returning to school, and travel to and from the city allowed.
However, on Sunday, authorities acknowledged one person had tested positive for the virus in Wuhan, and a day later, they said there were five more cases. Local health officials said the new cases were all from the same residential compound, mostly older people.
There were also 11 new “asymptomatic” cases reported in wider Hubei province. Asymptomatic cases are people who test positive for the virus and are capable of infecting others but do not show clinical signs.
And at least 11 cases connected to a local laundry worker were reported over the weekend, according to state broadcaster CCTV, prompting the citywide lockdown of Shulan, with a population of around 670,000 people.
Monday’s new cases in China also included five in the northeast.
No new deaths have been reported in China for nearly a month, with life gradually returning to normal after months of disruption. Shanghai Disneyland reopened on Monday, while the national government gave the green light last week for cinemas and sports venues to reopen.
Health experts warn that too hasty a return to normal could spark a second wave of infections, and point out that restrictions will have to remain until there is a vaccine.