As China shifts away from its wartime footing, experts say the priority should now be to broaden testing in communities and monitoring travelers coming into the country. Airports nationwide have already stepped up screening in recent days for visitors from abroad, and several cities including Beijing earlier this week began placing all incoming travelers in a mandatory 14-day quarantine in centralized locations.
“The important thing now is to maintain vigilance around finding new cases,” said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore.
As life in China returns to a semblance of normality, many people are moving on. Even those who had been quick to criticize the government’s initial mismanagement of the outbreak have become more forgiving in recent days, as they have seen governments in the United States and Europe fumble responses to their own outbreaks.
But for many, particularly those in Hubei, the restrictions have already exacted an emotional cost that the country has yet to fully confront. The fear and chaos of recent weeks has prompted some to wonder how in just a matter of days, a mysterious virus could have traumatized the entire country, transforming what is traditionally the most festive time of the year into one of the bleakest.
Wuhan in particular is still reeling from what one resident described as a “living hell.” For many residents, life under lockdown fed public anger and anxiety as supplies of food and medication began running low, mortgage and loan payments came due and the uncertainty of when it would all end set in. For others, there was only grief.
Mr. Lan, the filmmaker, said nearly everyone he encountered in the city had a friend, relative or neighbor who had succumbed to the virus.
“This was our war,” Mr. Lan said. “Everyone has seen so much that we are now numb.”
Some residents in Wuhan are hopeful that the worst has passed. But there remains a widespread, if unspoken, sense among residents that their city of 11 million had been sacrificed to save the country. Wuhan accounted for nearly two-thirds of China’s total infections and more than three-quarters of its deaths.