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
“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
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
“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
“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.