03/23/2020, 09.41
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Wuhan returns to normal. Epidemic 'imported' from Italy

by Wang Zhicheng

Only one "local" case of infection three days ago. All others are Chinese returning from abroad. The Global Times suggests that the epidemic could have originated in Italy. China continues to try to appear the "victim" and not the "author" of the epidemic. The authorities doing everything to show that the epidemic has been eradicated and that everyone can go back to work, to heal the economic crisis. In at least 12 provinces, schools will reopen in late March or early April.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - In Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, the official return to normal is being celebrated with fireworks. Two days ago, the authorities began dismantling the checkpoints that have isolated the city of 11 million inhabitants for almost two months.

The figures of the National Health Commission say that there have been no new cases of infection for four days in Wuhan and that almost all of the cases are now "imported", that is, Chinese people who are returning from abroad.

A "local" case was discovered three days ago in Guangdong, but today the Commission announced that 39 new infections yesterday were all Chinese who had returned from Europe, the United States and other countries that are now combatting the coronavirus.

There are 44 new cases in Hong Kong, three in Macau, 16 in Taiwan, all "returns". In total, there are 81,600 infected in China and the death toll is 3276.

Meanwhile, a highly controversial article has been published in the Global Times (Chinese Communist Party paper) which suggests that the epidemic could have originated in Italy and not China, as the rest of the world and many Chinese think. The newspaper cites an interview with Giuseppe Remuzzi, director of the Mario Nei pharmacological institute given to some US media, in which he says that in November and December in Italy doctors were faced with "strange, very serious pneumonia, especially among elderly people ". Remuzzi concludes that the coronavirus "was spreading at least in Northern Italy, in Lombardy ... before we knew about the epidemic in China".

But the newspaper headline suggests that "the epidemic spread [in Italy] earlier than in China."

Many experts say that China is fighting in two ways on two fronts. On the one hand, it wants to continue to appear the "victim" and not the "author" of the epidemic, levelling heavy accusations at the United States that allegedly introduced the virus to Wuhan last October. The subtle accusation against Italy of being the virus "epicenter" would be along the same line.

The second front is the economic one: China is doing everything to show that the epidemic has now been eradicated and that everyone can go back to work. Due to the closure of factories and shops, production and consumption are at a minimum; in addition, due to the epidemic in Europe and the United States, exports have suffered a strong backlash.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the most affected; almost 50% of large retailers and 60% of restaurants are in serious difficulty.

To push for "normality", public places, transport, offices, cinemas and gyms are reopening in various provinces. Authorities from at least 12 provinces have assured that schools will reopen in late March or early April. But many do not trust the data and assurances issued by authorities and still remain isolated at home.

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