Will the lifting of the lockdown in Wuhan, a city hit hardest in the country by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with emerging asymptomatic cases, give way to a second wave of the outbreak that had engulfed the city for the last three months?
Residents in Wuhan, who are about to embrace a normal life after enduring two months indoors, familiarizing themselves with every possible good hygiene habit, turning themselves into amateur coronavirus experts, as well as Wuhan authorities, who drew lessons from previous missteps, orchestrated detailed viral prevention plans to cover every possible loophole for large-scale infections, using their action to whisk off the possibility of a second wave, firmly believe that Wuhan, after all it had suffered and learned, could be potentially the safest place in China now.
"Don't get too close to me, and put on your face mask, young lady! You are not getting any fish if you don't respect virus prevention rules," yelled fish vendor Zhang from Baishazhou market, Wuhan's biggest agricultural products market, while selling fish to a customer.
Although entering the market requires temperature tests and inspection of "green codes," which suggest the user is symptom-free and has had no contact with suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients, Zhang's worry for the contagion is not soothed.
"Don't you know there are asymptomatic patients? Do you think those measures can help detect them? The virus is so canny, we have to always be on high alert."
China's State Council on Wednesday published new regulations on the management of silent coronavirus carriers, specifying that the group are infectious and have risks of transmission.
The regulations standardize the process of reporting silent carriers, requiring nationwide medical institutes to report them within two hours via the internet after discovering any such case.
A total of 24 asymptomatic patients have been reported on Wednesday in Hubei Province, which administrates Wuhan.
Worries over whether the silent carriers would cause a second outbreak amid the frequent flow of people after the lockdown ended has also bred ground for rumors. On Wednesday, under the topic of "Wuhan lifts lockdown" on Sina Weibo, a netizen posted a video showing someone falling to the ground in Jiang'an district in Wuhan and claimed that Wuhan is still very much dangerous due to large numbers of silent carriers lurking in the city. The subsequent post caused widespread panic on social media platforms and intensified people's concerns.
However, on late Wednesday, local police debunked the post, saying it was a rumor. The local police investigation showed that the man fell to the ground due to alcohol intoxication and was sent to a nearby hospital immediately to sober up.