There were no cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours in Hubei Province, China, including the city of Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 was first discovered, per a post on the local health department’s website Wednesday, as reported by Reuters.
This is a turning point in an epidemic that’s infected almost 81,000 Chinese and threatens to push the world’s second-largest economy into its first quarterly contraction in decades.
Wuhan was where the outbreak first took hold and thousands once lay sick or dying in hurriedly constructed hospitals. But Chinese authorities said Thursday that all 34 new cases recorded over the previous day had been imported from abroad.
“Today we have seen the dawn after so many days of hard effort,” said Jiao Yahui, a senior inspector at the National Health Commission.
Health officials are still trying to trace the source of the outbreak of the new strain of the coronavirus. But the first known case to have been reported appeared in Wuhan on Dec. 1, 2019, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet last month.
Despite continued criticism of China for its initial suppression of information and slow response to the virus, Beijing is now setting itself up as a leader in tackling it, offering assistance to other affected nations.
China ultimately sent thousands of doctors from around the country to Hubei province to help and new hospitals were built within days to house its tens of thousands of infected patients.
Globally, the coronavirus has sickened over 211,000 and killed 8,700. The outbreak has accelerated in the rest of the world, cutting a particularly deadly swathe in countries like Italy.
More than 84,000 people overall have recovered from the virus, which causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough in most cases. Severe illness is more likely in the elderly and those with existing health problems.
Entire countries are closing their borders, canceling schools and shutting restaurants. Music festivals and sports events have been postpones, while travel and supply chains are disrupted. Economists see $2.7 trillion being wiped from the world’s gross domestic product.