The view from the other side of the coronavirus peak
Europeans and Americans are desperate to move beyond the worst of the crisis and return to something approximating normality, but the World Health Organization is cautioning that moving too fast will undermine the sacrifices made so far.
Where things stand: Nearly every country on Earth is still seeing their caseload increase, and a recent uptick in Singapore shows that apparent victory over the virus can be fleeting. But several countries are providing reason for optimism.
Four countries now report fewer active cases than one week ago, according to a report from Albright Stonebridge Group, though Cambodia’s testing rate is so low that there’s little reason to trust its data.
- China’s numbers might also be too good to be true, but the trajectory is clearly positive. The cordon sanitaire around Wuhan was lifted Wednesday after 76 days, allowing people to travel freely and families to reunite.
- South Korea now has twice as many recoveries as active cases, but it isn’t declaring victory yet. The government is extending strict social distancing rules for another two weeks, but the country will go ahead with parliamentary elections on April 15. Voters will wear masks and gloves.
- In Jordan, thousands have been arrested for the crime of being outside during what is perhaps the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdown. It seems to be working — Jordan’s case count has fallen to 202, while numbers are climbing elsewhere in the Middle East.
New Zealand saw more recoveries (35) than new cases (29) in the past 24 hours.
- While the government's decisive action has contained the outbreak, the aim is to "crush it" before easing restrictions, Axios' Rebecca Falconer writes.
Austria is leading Europe’s tiptoe toward normal life, with small shops reopening next week and larger ones on May 1. Schools, restaurants and hotels are slated to open their doors in mid-May.
- Denmark and Norway are also rolling out staged reopening plans, while Italy is expected to allow some factories to reopen soon.
- “Phase two is a necessary phase in which we will have to learn to coexist with the virus, because the virus won’t disappear,” Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza has said. “We have to rethink how we will organize our social life, our manufacturing and our public health-care system. ... It will be very gradual.”
Italy and Spain appear now to be through the worst of what have been Europe’s deadliest outbreaks so far.
- “We have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We can touch it,” Alberto Mantovani, scientific director of the Humanitas hospitals in Milan and Bergamo, told WSJ. “We feel it in the hospital. The number of admissions is down and people are leaving the ICU.”
- France, Italy and the U.S. are now in the eye of the storm.