To acknowledge this, people across the world, including Italy and Spain, France and India, have taken part in poignant clapping tributes to salute them.The latest example happened in the UK on Thursday, when people went to their doorsteps and windows to take part in a collective round of applause.
As coronavirus spread beyond Wuhan, so too did outpourings of gratitude. Clapping has gone global.
2. China is relaxing restrictions.
For the time being, at least, China appears to believe it has brought its coronavirus emergency under control. Very few home-grown – known as locally transmitted – cases have been reported in recent days. Most of its new cases have been imported from aboard.
That means the Chinese government is beginning to ease some of the restrictions it imposed to stem the spread of the virus.
On 25 March, China’s Hubei province lifted travel restrictions on people leaving the region. The lockdown in Wuhan, which began in January, is scheduled to be eased on 8 April.
As BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonell reported, people in the Chinese capital, Beijing, have been able to breathe fresh air – and probably a sigh of relief – too.
As restrictions are lifted, there are fears of a second wave of infections in China. But for now, China is taking tentative steps towards restoring normality.
3. Italy might be turning the tide.
Earlier this week, Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said the country was in “an apparent stabilisation phase” of contagion. That’s because for four consecutive days, the country reported a decline in the number of new cases and deaths from coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the daily number of new cases was 3,612, a lower number than for the four previous days. Infections rose on Thursday, and it was a mixed picture on Friday, with a lower number of new infections than Thursday, but the biggest rise in deaths so far.
Those four days of decline, albeit brief, were seen as a glimmer of hope in Italy, which is the worst-hit country in Europe.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called the slowdown encouraging. The health chief in Lombardy, the hardest-hit region, said there was “light at the end of the tunnel”.
In Spain, a doctor’s online plea for letters to those who had been hospitalised by coronavirus received an overwhelming response. Tens of thousands of letters were sent by well-wishers,El Pais reported.