Wuhan, Where The Coronavirus First Emerged, Reopens After Two-month Lockdown
Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged last year, began lifting a two-month lockdown partly on March 28 after more than two months of near total isolation for its population of 11 million.
The city reopened by first restarting some metro services and reopening borders, allowing some semblance of normality to return and families to reunite.
The city in Hubei province was placed under lockdown in January with roadblocks ring-fencing its outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life
But the major transport and industrial hub has now signalled the end of its long isolation, with state media showing the first officially sanctioned passenger train arriving back into the city just after midnight.
People are now allowed to enter but not leave, and many trains had been fully booked days in advance.
AFP reporters saw crowds of passengers arriving at Wuhan station on Saturday, most wheeling suitcases alongside them.
Among those on the first high-speed trains allowed into the city on Saturday morning was Guo Liangkai, a 19-year-old student whose one-month work stint in Shanghai stretched to three months due to the clamp down on movement.
Guo told Reuters after being greeted by his mother at the main station, that;
It makes me very happy that I can see my family. We wanted to hug but now is a special period so we can’t hug or take any actions like these.
Some had managed to slip back into the city a day earlier on rail services that were stopping in Wuhan — but nominally banned passengers from disembarking — as enforcement of the travel ban began to ease.
One woman who arrived on Friday said she and her daughter had been away from her husband for nearly 10 weeks.
The 36-year-old told AFP on Saturday stated that;
As the train neared Wuhan, my child and I were both very excited. It felt like the train was moving faster than before, and my daughter said the driver must know we really want to go home. She rushed toward her father, and watching them from behind I couldn’t help but cry.
China is now battling to control a wave of imported cases as infections soar abroad.
Elsewhere in China, long lines of travellers queued at train stations to board high-speed services back to Wuhan.
Passengers in Shanghai had their temperatures checked by staff in goggles and masks after boarding their Saturday morning service.
Restrictions on residents heading out of Wuhan will not be lifted until April 8, when the airport will also reopen for domestic flights.
Wuhan is the last area of Hubei province to see overland travel restrictions lifted, although some highways leading into the city had already reopened this week.
The city has paid a heavy price for the outbreak, with more than 50,000 people infected and more Covid-19 deaths than any other city in China.
But numbers have fallen dramatically in recent weeks. Official figures show there have been fewer than 20 new cases across the province in the past two weeks.
Banks reopened earlier this week and bus services resumed but residents have been warned against unnecessary travel and those over 65 have been told to avoid public transport.