Health Affairs | March 10, 2020Read the Publication
China waited weeks before reporting a novel coronavirus to the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus, now designated as SARS-CoV-2, “jumped” species from an animal to human in a Wuhan seafood market in early December, initiating the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). But after a costly delay, China locked down Wuhan and wider Hubei Province, confining about 60 million people, the largest cordon sanitaire (a guarded area where no one can enter or leave) in human history. Its draconian measures were medieval, but garnered praise from WHO. In late February, the Joint WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) concluded the cordon sanitaire was effective, with Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urging all countries to learn from the China model.