The Chinese city of Wuhan seems to have come through the worst of the coronavirus crisis – for now, at least. In the first of an occasional ‘Diary from Wuhan’, Stephen Lewis reports on how the people there got through – and what it was like to experience lockdown

WUHAN, CHINA, March 23

For six days now, there have been no new cases of coronavirus. The people in this city of 11 million are relieved and hopeful, but still alert.

One city resident told how a member of her family was still in hospital recuperating from the disease. However, four other family members have been discharged after recovering.

For this family, it began with a special dinner to celebrate Chinese New Year. "Just two days after the dinner, three family members - an older couple, the mum and dad, and one of their two daughters - developed a high fever," the resident said.

The fever quickly developed, and soon the two parents were having trouble breathing. Wuhan's temporary hospitals were still under construction. "So at first they couldn't go to hospital and had to stay at home," the resident said.

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Soon, a couple of other family members who had been at the same New Year dinner - the old couple's other daughter and the husband of one of the daughters - also began to develop a fever.

It was a desperately worrying time. The two sisters' young children were sent to live with other relatives, and the affected family members and others who had been in contact with them went into isolation in their homes.

After ten days or so, however, following a huge effort to build two temporary new hospitals and to convert hotels and stadia into temporary isolation beds, and after more than 40,000 doctors and nurses had been drafted into Wuhan from elsewhere in China, the old couple were admitted to hospital. The three younger family members - the two sisters and the husband - were admitted to isolation hotels for treatment.

All three of the younger family members and the mother have now been discharged from hospital and are undergoing a further 14 days of isolation, each living alone in a different flat. The father remains in hospital.

More and more people have now been released from hospital, but - like members of this family - they must still live in conditions of strict isolation. And even families who have not been infected are still quarantining themselves at home as the lockdown continues. (CHECK)

There are clear lessons for Britain's NHS, the resident said. "If you cannot prepare enough hospital beds, there may well be many people with the virus who have to stay at home. One other noticeable thing about this disease is that close contact is much more likely to lead to it spreading. In Wuhan, there are many cases of several members of the same family being infected - or else people who attended the same social gathering."

Another resident, meanwhile, reported on an interesting development as a result of the coronavirus.

Many restaurants, since being required to close, have now adapted to offer takeaway services. But individual families are not allowed to place single orders. To reduce the risk of infection, orders are now taken electronically for whole blocks of flats and even for local neighbourhoods. A single delivery driver wearing hazmat gear plus mask and goggles will then deliver the meals for the community.

And the favourite takeout order? "Hotpots!" the resident said.

A hotpot is a form of meal in which raw ingredients are cooked fresh in a boiling broth at the table. The reason for their popularity? "People believe because they have to be cooked there is less chance of infection!" the resident said.