Wuhan Eases Coronavirus Lockdown As Restrictions Intensify Outside China


Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, has begun to loosen its two-month lockdown on citizens as more countries issued new restrictions to contain the pandemic.

On March 23, small groups of residents in the central Chinese city were leaving their residential compounds, going to grocery stores and walking along the streets for the first time in weeks.

During the weekend, the first train arrived in the city ferrying more than 1,000 workers from elsewhere in the province back to the city for work.

On March 22, local authorities said residents could begin returning to work if they did not have a temperature and could provide a green health code, signifying their virus-free status as well as a certificate from their employer.

Officials said the city would be “gradually” reopened and public transportation would resume.

Wuhan City authorities said non-residents, those stranded in Wuhan since the stringent travel restrictions went into effect on January 23, could also begin applying to leave the city.

Residents in Wuhan said only those from compounds deemed virus-free were allowed to leave and that citizens were still wary of going out onto the streets. 

While the officially reported number of locally transmitted infections in China has dropped dramatically over the last weeks, imported cases continue to rise.

On March 23, China reported 39 new cases from the previous day, all of which were from imported cases, according to the National Health Commission.

China on March 22 ordered that all international flights to Beijing to be diverted to other cities where passengers will be screened before continuing on to the capital. Shanghai and Guangzhou have said they will begin testing all international arrivals for the virus.

In another sign that normal life was starting to return in China, there were reports of traffic jams in Beijing on March 23. 

There have now been over 81,000 cases in China, and the death toll has reached 3,270.

The loosening of restrictions in Wuhan came as other nations intensified their response to the virus.

In the US, President Donald Trump activated the National Guard in New York, California and Washington state, three of the states hardest hit by Covid-19.

President Trump said additional supplies will also go the three states, including extra beds and facemasks

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