A video posted on the Internet on March 17 showed an unusually intense farewell. People crammed their balconies in a community in Wuhan, Hubei Province, waving and mouthing their gratitude through their masks: “Thank you for reaching out to us.” “Thank you for your hard work.”
The appreciation was for the medical workers who had come from Tianjin in north China to help out with the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) treatment and prevention and were leaving as the infection had been brought under control.
On their way to the bus that would take them to the airport, the overwhelmed visitors waved back and said their farewell. “Please stay strong,” urged one of them. “I will come back to see this city when the disease is eradicated,” said another.
It was the first medical team from outside Hubei to leave. After the outbreak, over 42,000 medical workers from across the country came to Hubei and their concerted efforts and dedication saw the number of new cases go down. On March 19, no new case was reported in Wuhan, a contrast to the peak period in February, when the number reached more than 1,000 on a single day.
It signaled the rescue medical teams could finally leave one by one and the first batch departed on March 17.
But though the situation is under control in China, the disease has become a pandemic, erupting in 159 countries and regions, from Europe to the Middle East to Africa. By March 18, 35 countries had declared a state of emergency, heightening the need for the international community to work together to defeat the disease.
“The outbreak is a test of our solidarity—political, financial and scientific,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We need to come together to fight a common enemy that does not respect borders, ensure that we have the resources necessary to bring this outbreak to an end, and bring our best science to the forefront to find shared answers to shared problems.”
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on March 18 that China will provide assistance within its capacity to countries in need to fight COVID-19, upholding the concept of one human community with a shared future. Europe has become the new epicenter of the disease with Italy reporting the second highest number of confirmed cases and deaths after China by March 18. The difference, however, is that the fatality rate in Italy is nearly 8 percent, much higher than the 2.3 percent in China. This is partly attributed to Italy’s severely aging society, with the average age of those who died being 81, while over two thirds had other medical conditions.