Home International China’s Wuhan ends its more-than two-month coronavirus lockdown

China’s Wuhan ends its more-than two-month coronavirus lockdown

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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 – The Chinese city where the

new coronavirus emerged ended its more-than two-month lockdown

on Wednesday, even as a small northern city ordered restrictions

on residents amid concern about a second wave of infections.

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.

More than 50 000 people in Wuhan were infected, and more

than 2 500 of them died, about 80% of all deaths in China,

according to official figures.

The virus has since spread around the world, infecting more

than 1.4 million people, killing 82 000 and wreaking

havoc on the global economy as governments imposed lockdowns to

rein in its spread.

While China managed to curb its coronavirus pandemic, the

measures to contain it have exacted a heavy economic and social

toll, with many residents in recent days expressing relief as

well as uncertainty and worry over the lingering danger of

infection.

“I’m going to see my parents,” Wang Wenshu told Reuters as

she waited to check in at Wuhan’s Tianhe airport, which reopened

on Wednesday. “Of course I miss them. Stop asking me about it or I’m going

to cry.”

Some travellers wore full protective suits, long raincoats

or face shields.

Wuhan has slowly been returning towards normal, with people

officially allowed to enter the city from March 28, although

restrictions remain. Residents have been urged not to leave

Wuhan or Hubei province, or even their neighbourhood, unless

absolutely necessary.

“We are acutely aware that we must not relax as we have not

claimed final victory,” Hubei vice governor Cao Guangjin said at

a news conference on Wednesday.

“We need to remain calm, and be just as cautious at the end

as at the beginning.”

Shopping malls and the city’s biggest shopping belt, the Chu

River and Han street, reopened on March 30. Long queues, thanks

to requirements that customers stand a metre apart, have formed

at supermarkets while some residents have taken advantage of the

warmer weather to resume outdoor badminton games and dancing.

Wuhan has reported just three new confirmed infections in

the past 21 days and only two in the past two weeks.

But even as Wuhan came back to life, new imported cases in

the far northern province of Heilongjiang surged to a daily high

of 25, fuelled by an influx of infected travellers crossing the

border from Russia.

On Wednesday, Suifenhe city announced restrictions on the

movement of citizens similar to the measures Wuhan has endured.

People must stay in their residential compounds and only one

person per family can leave once every three days to buy

necessities, and must return on the same day, state-run CCTV

reported.

“While the whole country is celebrating the unlocking of

Wuhan, few noticed that Heilongjiang is under enormous pressure

dealing with infections coming over the border,” one person

wrote on the Weibo social media platform.

“Suifenhe is a small city without any high-level hospitals,

how can it handle the huge influx of patients?”

Some 55 000 people were expected to leave Wuhan by train on

Wednesday. By early morning, more than 10 000 had left by plane,

an airport official said. Flights to Beijing and international

locations have not resumed.

“I’m very happy, I’m going home today,” migrant worker Liu

Xiaomin told Reuters as she stood with her suitcases in Wuhan’s

Hankou railway station, bound for Xiangyang city.

People from Wuhan arriving in Beijing must undergo two

rounds of testing for the virus.

China is maintaining strict screening protocols, concerned

about any resurgence in infections by virus carriers who exhibit

no symptoms and infected travellers arriving from abroad.

China’s new coronavirus cases doubled on Tuesday as the

number of infected travellers from overseas surged, while new

asymptomatic infections more than quadrupled.

New confirmed cases rose to 62 on Tuesday from 32 a day

earlier, the National Health Commission said, the most since

March 25. New imported infections accounted for 59 of the cases.

The number of new asymptomatic cases rose to 137 from 30 a

day earlier, the health authority said on Wednesday, with

incoming travellers accounting for 102 of the latest batch.

Authorities do not count asymptomatic cases in their tally

of confirmed infections until patients show symptoms such as a

fever or a cough. As of Tuesday, 1,095 asymptomatic patients

were under medical observation, with 358 of them travellers

arriving from abroad.

To stem infections from outside its borders, China has

slashed the number of international flights and denied entry to

virtually all foreigners. It also started testing all

international arrivals for the virus this month.

As of Tuesday, the total number of confirmed cases in

mainland China stood at 81 802, including 3 333 fatalities, the

National Health Commission said. 

Reuters