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As COVID-19 epicenter celebrates ‘zero case,’ attention turns to Italy

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A heroes’ farewell for medical staff leaving Wuhan, epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, located in China’s Hubei Province. Volunteers from around the country played a decisive role in the city’s coronavirus battle.

Their efforts rewarded by the news that for the first day (March 19) since the crisis began late 2019, no new homegrown cases have been reported.

But as this team left for Tianjin, they were told their work was not yet over. Jiao Yahui, deputy director, Medical Administration Bureau, National Health Commission admonished the staff:

“When you get back to Tianjin, have a good rest before returning to the battle against the epidemic. Our mission is not completely over yet.”

Chinese authorities feel confident they’ve turned the corner on the epidemic. But the risk of a new wave of infections remains and it will be some time before life in Wuhan returns to normal.

Meanwhile attention has turned to Italy which as of yesterday (March 19) had passed China as the worst-hit country in the world by coronavirus, according to the latest figures released by the government.

Rome reported 427 new COVID-19 fatalities in a day, taking its death toll to 3,405, more than 150 ahead of China. Italy’s total stood at 1,016 just a week ago, but with 300-400 new deaths a day it has now tripled over that period.

As at this morning, deaths in Italy had passed the 1,000 mark. Only China, Spain and Iran have previously reached this threshold.