Wuhan lifts coronavirus lockdown, still struggles to recover from pandemic

Katie Ramirez
April 8, 2020

Chinese authorities say no new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the Hubei province, and while the rest of the world continues its struggle against the new coronavirus, life in Wuhan has begun to return to normal.

Tens of thousands of people in Wuhan, the origin point and epicentre for the coronavirus pandemic, began travelling out of the sprawling city on Wednesday as China lifted its 73-day lockdown, even as the number of fresh COVID-19 cases crossed 1,000 in the country and two new deaths heightened concerns of a rebound in infections.

It didn't take long for traffic to begin moving swiftly through the newly-reopened bridges, tunnels and highway toll booths, while hundreds waited for the first trains and flights out of the city, many hoping to return to jobs elsewhere.

"Wuhan lifts lockdown" and "Welcome back Wuhan" were posted.

China sealed off the city of Wuhan on January 23, 2020, when it became apparent the deadly Covid-19 virus had started there.

Some travellers could barely contain their happiness. "I haven't been outside for more than 70 days", a resident named Tong Zhengkun told AP.

People from Wuhan arriving in Beijing must undergo two rounds of testing for the virus. "While there are questions about the veracity of China's count, the unprecedented lockdown of Wuhan and Hubei have been successful enough that other countries adopted similar measures", AP notes.

Though the overall death toll in China stands at just over 3,300 with almost 82,000 confirmed cases, the number of new infections has been falling steadily for several weeks.

"The people in Wuhan paid out a lot and bore a lot mentally and psychologically", resident Zhang Xiang said.

Coronavirus crisis: China’s COVID-19 ground zero, Wuhan, lifts lockdown
Workers have disinfected bullet trains, the entrance and exits, waiting halls and platforms of the railway stations in advance. Over 50,000 people in Wuhan caught the virus, and more than 2,500 of them died, according to official figures.

It said that as of midnight April 6, China had detected a total of 81,740 cases, with 3,331 deaths.

However, such restrictions have eased in recent days as Mainland China reported no coronavirus deaths for the first time on Tuesday.

Relief over China's falling virus numbers has been tempered, however, by caution over new risks: rising numbers of infected people arriving from overseas - primarily returning Chinese citizens - and the invisible threat of asymptomatic cases.

Wuhan officials have also revoked the "epidemic-free" status of 45 residents' compounds because of the emergence of asymptomatic cases, and for other unspecified reasons.

China sealed off Wuhan, a central city of 11 million people, on January 23, a drastic step that came to symbolise its aggressive management of the virus.

Wuhan authorities said at the weekend that various restrictions on movement would remain in place to guard against a second wave of infections, arguing that "even greater vigilance is needed" now that the travel ban has been dismantled.

The lockdown helped with the spread of misinformation because when people aren't able to leave their homes, it's hard to get a handle on things.

They must show proof that their area of origin has been declared safe from the virus, and many face the likelihood of two-week quarantines in their destination provinces.

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