On Monday, city officials said five new cases had been confirmed in the city, none of which were imported from overseas. While that is a far cry from the figures at the beginning of the crisis, or those being reported daily across much of western Europe and the United States right now, the apparent ability of the virus to continue spreading undetected — especially in a city as intensely surveilled and restricted as Wuhan — will lead to concerns about the viability of reopening.
RKI said there was still a “degree of uncertainty” with the latest estimates but the increase in reproduction rate “makes it necessary to observe the development very closely over the coming days.”
The German federal government and the states had agreed on a snap-back mechanism in case the virus returns. If any county exceeds 50 new coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants, lockdown measures will be reintroduced in that county. Over the weekend, several counties across the country exceeded that limit.
The latest cases may yet turn out to be a blip that will be contained, but that three countries which appeared to be on top of matters are again reporting domestic transmissions should be majorly concerning.
Will any lessons from these countries be learned in the West, where countries are several weeks behind in their outbreaks, but many governments are already champing at the bit to relax lockdowns, despite sky-high infection rates?
The new infections in China and South Korea also risk prompting a nihilistic response. If countries that appear to be on top of the disease cannot contain it, what can a nation with thousands of daily cases hope to do? But this is arguably the wrong takeaway — these countries had the worst outbreaks in the world in February, but managed to get them under control. That they are seeing new cases is a lesson about the risks of relaxing too soon, not a reason to give up the fight entirely.
It’s not over until it’s over. But it will be over, eventually. What Asia’s experience is showing is that this will require continued vigilance, and a lot of patience.
CNN’s Fred Pleitgen in Berlin contributed reporting.