China mourned the victims of the coronavirus outbreak by maintaining a three-minute silence and bringing the nation to a standstill.
A memorial day was held in China on Saturday to honor over 3,300 people who died from Covid-19.
At 10:00 am local time (3:00 am GMT), people nationwide stood still for three minutes to commemorate the dead.
Cars, trains and ships then honked, air raid sirens rang as flags flew at half mast.
The first cases of coronavirus were discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province at the end of last year.
Since then, the virus has conquered the world, infected more than a million people and killed almost 60,000 in 181 countries.
In Wuhan, the epicenter of the Chinese outbreak, all traffic lights in urban areas turned red at 10:00 a.m. and stopped traffic for three minutes.
The Chinese government said the event was an opportunity to pay tribute to “martyrs,” an indication of the 14 medical workers who died fighting the virus.
This includes Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan who died of Covid-19 after being reprimanded by the authorities for trying to warn others about the disease.
“I am very saddened by our deceased colleagues and patients,” a Chinese nurse who treated coronavirus patients told AFP. “I hope you can rest well in heaven.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other government officials wore white flowers on their chests and silently paid tribute to Beijing.
Saturday’s commemorations coincide with the annual Qingming Festival, where millions of Chinese families pay tribute to their ancestors.
China first informed the World Health Organization (WHO) on December 31 of last year about cases of pneumonia with unknown causes.
By January 18, the confirmed number of cases had increased to around 60 – however, experts estimated that the actual number was closer to 1,700.
Just two days later, as millions of people were preparing for the lunar new year, the number of cases tripled to more than 200, and the virus was discovered in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.
From that point on, the virus quickly spread to Asia and then Europe, eventually reaching every corner of the world.
In the past few weeks, China has started to relax travel and socially distancing restrictions as it has brought the health emergency under control.
Last weekend, Wuhan was partially reopened after more than two months of isolation.
China reported 19 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Saturday, up from 31 the previous day. According to the China Health Commission, 18 of these cases concerned foreign travelers.
While struggling to control cases from abroad, China has temporarily banned all foreign visitors, even if they have a visa or residence permit.
What’s the latest in the world?
As the coronavirus crisis eases in China, the rest of the world remains firmly in the grip of the disease.
In the United States, today’s global epicenter of the outbreak, the number of deaths caused by the disease rose on Friday to 7,152, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The number of deaths rose by 1,480 within 24 hours, the highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, the AFP news agency said, citing the Johns Hopkins University case tracker.
As of Friday, there were 277,953 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, an increase of more than 32,000 within 24 hours.
Deaths continue to increase in Italy and Spain, the second and third worst affected countries in the world.
In Italy, deaths on Friday rose 766 to 14,681. In Spain, the death toll was 10,935, an increase from 932 the previous day.
However, there was a glimmer of hope for both countries as the downward trend in the rate of new cases continued.