L’11 January 2020, the health authorities of Wuhan reported the first case of death of a 61-year-old patient hospitalized for “abnormal pneumonia” that was spreading throughout the city. The coronavirus had affected 59 people at the time (41 of whom were hospitalized) and had not yet left the borders of China (the first case, in Thailand, of an infected Chinese tourist is two days later) but the first doubts about the numbers coming from the city of inner China, which had not updated the data of the infections for a week.
The first lockdown in Wuhan
Wuhan would have been the first city in the world to suffer the lockdown, and would have ended up at the center of a geopolitical clash between China and the United States over suspicions of a virus created in a laboratory of a virology institute a few kilometers from the Huanan market, where live wild animals were sold, and to which the first contagions from the disease that would have assumed the name of Covid-19. The debate on the origins of the virus is stalled today, after Beijing’s rejection of a new round of inspections by experts from the World Health Organization, who last year called it “extremely unlikely” that the SARS-CoV coronavirus -2, in charge of Covid-19, could have come out of the Wuhan virology laboratory. Today, two years after the first victim, and after the arrival of the vaccines, the virus does not appear to be slowing down.
Over 510 million infected
Globally they are beyond 510 million infected, and the victims of Covid-19 are close to 5.5 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, 840,000 of which in the United States alone. The majority of deaths occurred last year, when 3.5 million deaths were recorded, following the waves triggered by the most contagious variants of the virus (especially Alpha and Delta).
To pay the highest price in terms of deaths compared to the population is, however, the Peru, the only country in the world to have exceeded the threshold of six thousand victims per million inhabitants. In total, the Andean country, 33 million inhabitants, has 2.37 million infections and over 203 thousand victims.
What is worrying today is the variant Omicron, identified last November for the first time in South Africa, and responsible for the new peak of infections. Today, the use they did register a new world record of daily infections in a single country, 1.35 million according to calculations cited by the Reuters agency, and according to the forecasts of the WHO, at this rate of diffusion, more than half of the European population will be infected in the next six to eight weeks by the new variant. In recent days, the Omicron variant was also detected in China, in Tianjin, in the first cases of local transmission.
The metropolis on the outskirts of Beijing is under observation, even if not in lockdown: the authorities have banned travel to the Chinese capital, which in a few weeks will kick off the Winter Olympics amidst massive anti-epidemic measures. For now, the Organizing Committee excludes the use of the lockdown in the capital during the Games, but the situation in China has become complex again, even if no longer in Wuhan: on 23 December the authorities of Xìan, in internal China, decided to impose the lockdown to the 13 million inhabitants of the city known for the terracotta army, on a peak of infections attributable to the delta variant. Today, however, the isolation was triggered for another city, Anyang, 5 million inhabitants in the province of Henan, after the emergence of an outbreak in which there are cases of the Omicron variant.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, China has just over a hundred thousand confirmed cases of contagion (103,968 in the latest update of the National Health Commission) and the number of victims has stopped for a year at 4,636: very low levels compared to those of other countries, but China’s strict “zero contagion” policy – which today has exceeded 2.9 billion vaccine administrations – has presented a very high bill to the domestic economy and in these days it is today severely tested by the high transmissibility of the new variant.