Barricades are removed from the road at an expressway toll station in northern Wuhan (Photo by Xinhua News Agency)
China has officially lifted the lockdown on Wuhan, the first epicenter that was hit hardest at the beginning of coronavirus pandemic. This central city, which is home to 11 million people, can finally embrace the life slowly back-to-track after a 76-day lockdown imposed since January 23.
On Wednesday, healthy residents and visitors are allowed to leave Wuhan, with trains and flights resumed and highway entrances reopened, although officials warn that the threat of further infections remains far from over.
This comes after China reported no deaths on Tuesday, the first time since it began publishing figures. Wuhan’s railway authority estimated more than 55,000 passengers will leave Wuhan by train Wednesday, with about 40% bound for the Pearl River Delta region where many need to return to their jobs.
For more than two months, public transport in Wuhan was suspended, businesses were shut and millions of residents were confined to their homes and residential communities. But the strict control measures apparently worked. The country reported nearly zero new local infections in recent weeks, leading to similar restrictive measures being lifted for other parts of Hubei province late last month. The easing of travel restrictions on Wuhan is the latest milestone in China’s fight against COVID-19. On March 10, Chinese President Xi Jinping praised the city and its people for being “heroic” during a visit to Wuhan.
Over the last few weeks, the city has been gradually allowing some residents to leave their residential compounds on a limited basis. On Wednesday, more businesses are to reopen and all residents with green “health codes” and documents from their employers should be able to return to work. Prevention measures such as wearing masks, temperature checks and limiting access to residential communities will still remain in place.
The occasion was marked with a light show on either side of the Yangtze river, with skyscrapers and bridges radiating animated images of health workers aiding patients, along with one displaying the words “heroic city” and “Hello, Wuhan!”