COVID-19 Outbreak: Experts Warn China May See Second Wave

Health authorities and experts saw hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic when China announced it did not see any new domestically transmitted cases of the novel coronavirus in mid-March. However, some scientists warned that the outbreak is likely to happen again in the country. 

On March 18, the National Health Commission in China confirmed that the number of patients with COVID-19 in the country did not increase. Officials said it was the first time that no new infection was reported locally, IFLScience reported.

No new locally transmitted cases were reported for 13 consecutive days outside Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic started. Infections in Wuhan also started to decline in early March, from single figures to zero new cases. 

The city of Huanggang, which once had the second-highest number of cases in China, reportedly discharged its last two COVID-19 patients this month. In February, Chinese health authorities recorded thousands of new coronavirus infections every day across the country. 

Following reports about zero domestic transmission, many cities in the country reduced quarantined areas. Residents in low-risk areas were also able to leave the Hubei province for work, Bloomberg reported

However, it may be too early for the Chinese government to reduce measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Scientists said that the threat of infection remains high in the country. 

The move to lift restrictions in cities right after China saw a significant drop in COVID-19 cases may allow the coronavirus to spread again. Scientists said the disease may have a second wave.

COVID-19 affected less than 1 percent of the country’s population in the first wave. Even without new transmission, experts warned most people in China remain susceptible to the virus. 

“It’s going to keep burning. The virus is still out there,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told Bloomberg. “We expect it to leak back in from the rest of the world.”

The warning also comes after health authorities reported new “imported cases” in China. The Chinese mainland recorded 34 new patients that contracted the coronavirus from outside the country.

Wuhan Coronavirus Wuhan seafood market closed after the new coronavirus was detected there for the first time on January 1, 2020. SISTEMA 12/Wikimedia Commons