China reports no new pandemic cases for five days in a row

China has no new confirmed cases caused by local transmission of coronavirus reported for five days in row.

Latest WHO report shows social-distancing working in China

The World Health Organisation have confirmed evidence of initial success for the social distancing policy implemented by the Chinese to combat the

COVID-19 pandemic.

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For the first time since the outbreak began there have been no new confirmed cases caused by local transmission in China reported for five consecutive days up to 23 March 2020. This is an indication that the social distancing measures enacted in China have led to control of COVID-19 in the country.

At the peak of the outbreak in China (early February), there were between 2,000 and 4,000 new confirmed cases per day.

For the first time since the outbreak began there have been no new confirmed cases caused by local transmission in China reported for five consecutive days up to 23 March 2020. This is an indication that the social distancing measures enacted in China have led to control of COVID-19 in China.

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The COVID-19 epidemic was declared a Global Pandemic by WHO on 11 March 2020. As of 20 March 2020, over 254,000 cases and 10,000 deaths had been reported worldwide.

The outbreak began in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. In response to the fast-growing epidemic, China imposed strict social distancing in Wuhan on 23 January 2020 followed closely by similar measures in other provinces

The WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling within the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, J-IDEA, Imperial College London has released their 11th report on the COVID-19 pandemic today.

These interventions have also impacted economic productivity in China, and the ability of the Chinese economy to resume without restarting the epidemic is not yet clear.

In the report, WHO estimate transmissibility from reported cases and compare those estimates with daily data on within-city movement, as a proxy for economic activity .

Initially, within-city movement and transmission were very strongly correlated in the 5 provinces most affected by the epidemic and Beijing. However, that correlation is no longer apparent even though within-city movement has started to increase.

A similar analysis for Hong Kong shows that intermediate levels of local activity can be maintained while avoiding a large outbreak.

WHO sayt that these results do not preclude future epidemics in China, nor do they allow them to estimate the maximum proportion of previous within-city activity that will be recovered in the medium term. However, they do suggest that after very intense social distancing which resulted in containment, China has successfully exited their stringent social distancing policy to some degree.

Globally, China is at a more advanced stage of the pandemic. Policies implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in China and the exiting strategies that followed can inform decision making processes for countries once containment is achieved.

Professor Neil M Ferguson, of Imperial College London, said: “This analysis provides some hope for countries currently in various levels of lockdown that once case numbers are brought to low levels, it might be possible to relax social distancing - provided equal measures to limit the risk of the resurgence of transmission are introduced.

“Such suppression maintenance policies will likely need to rely on rapid and ubiquitous testing and rigorous case and contact isolation policies.”