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The central Chinese city of Wuhan has turned the spotlight on the city that has become ground zero of the new coronavirus outbreak. Wuhan, the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei province is widely seen as the economic and financial hub of the middle reaches of the mainland of China.

The city holds a strategic location at the confluence of the Yangtze River and its largest tributary, the Han River. With a population of more than 11 million, it is considered as a tier-two city by Chinese standards. It is the seventh-most populous city in China when ranked by population of the urban area. A large number of students also live in the city, which houses the respected Wuhan University. It also has a significant number of migrant workers, some of whom work in the automobile and steel industries.

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Image Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Wuhan yet has a glorious history, dating back thousands of years, it is close to an important archaeological site known as “Panlongcheng”, which dates to the “Shang dynasty” between 1600 and 1046 BC. After surviving through wars and crises, the city has established rapidly. In more recent years, it has become a symbol of capitalism. Previously a steel city, Wuhan started to encourage next-generation technological advancements in 1988 with the establishment of the East Lake High-Tech Development Zone, also known as “Optics Valley”. Boasting over 90,000 firms, Optics Valley drove the output of Wuhan's high-tech industries to over one trillion yuan (143 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, according to Xinhua.

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Optics valley
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These economic figures show why the city has solidified its place in China's high-tech industry. Wuhan is now the world's largest producer of optical fibre, optoelectronic devices and laser equipment. More than 300 of the world's top 500 companies have a presence in the city. In 2018, Wuhan granted 37,032 invention patents, that means 34 out of 10,000 people in Wuhan own patents. The city is also a centre for Hubei cuisine, Wuhan-style food business, in particular, is notable for noodle dishes and dry pots.

All these creations can only sustain Wuhan's speed if the city is performing continuously, but with the limitations taken to prevent the spread of COVID 19, Wuhan took a halt on the city life and also the busy production lines. But it's not all bad news for them, front line healthcare workers of Wuhan deployed robots, telemedicine and other technologies to help contain the pandemic.

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Image Credit: indianexpress

A field hospital staffed by robots opened in the Hongshan Sports Center in Wuhan. It is a project involving Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, China Mobile and CloudMinds, a maker of cloud robotics systems based in China and the U.S. All medical services in the facility were carried out by robots and patients entering were screened by connected 5G thermometers to alert staff for anyone feverish. Patients wore smart bracelets and rings that synced with ‘CloudMinds' AI platform so their vital signs could be monitored. Doctors and nurses also wore the devices to catch any early signs of infection.

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Image Credit: CloudMind

Meanwhile, other robots provided food, drinks and medicine to patients, as well as information and entertainment through dancing, and still, other autonomous droids sprayed disinfectant and cleaned the floors.

It was an action attempted for relieving exhausted health-care workers, and even the outbreak stalled in recent months. And China began lifting the lockdown, by restarting some metro services and reopening borders, allowing some act of normality to return and families to reunite. After being cut-off from the rest of the country for two months, the reopening of Wuhan, marks a turning point in China's fight against the virus, though the reopening of outbound travel easily won’t end the hardships, and normal life would be an outlying dream for the citizens.

(Source - News CGTN/ NY Times/ Wikipedia)