As the trains loaded with passengers arrived in Wuhan, after the Chinese government partially relaxed the rules of the lockdown, the state’s successful fight against the coronavirus must be applauded. China was the epicentre of this virus and yet, its steps to counter have not only led to the end of local transmission, but the fact that Wuhan is now open once more is a substantial achievement.

The prime lesson that the success in Wuhan teaches us is that measures considered draconian by some – such as quarantining entire districts – are absolutely crucial in fighting this pandemic. A person’s rights – beyond unalienable ones such as the right to life – can be subverted by the state for the greater good, which in this case relates to saving the lives of millions.

Many have compared what we are going through to something resembling a global war. Entire countries are facing a similar, life threatening situation, economies are devastated and states have to take extreme measures such as lockdowns and curfews to save as many lives as possible. This also grants legitimacy to governments to take all the steps needed – nothing is excessive as long as we can manage to replicate the success of China in combating the coronavirus.

The pandemic also teaches us that in times that require extreme measures, the government must step up and the public must throw all of its weight behind the state without question. Political divisions, questions of whether the left should be in power or the right – all these issues take a backseat when we know that the political system in place is the only thing that prevents this pandemic from taking too many lives. Some believe that the political unity in China, due to its one-party system, is the reason for why it managed to overcome this crisis so quickly. That may well be true, but this does not mean that we cannot put our own issues aside to fight COVID-19 collectively. China’s success is a lesson for all; it is up to us to take from it what we will.