Coronavirus Pandemic Epicentre Wuhan Ends 76-Day Lockdown
Wuhan's government implemented lockdown has been lifted after 11 weeks, meaning residents can travel once again.
Chinese authorities were planning on ending the ban on 8 April so, as the clock struck midnight (their clocks are ahead of ours) the city's 11 million residents were permitted to leave without special authorisation.
Restrictions in the city, where most of China's more than 82,000 virus cases and over 3,300 deaths were reported, have been gradually relaxed in recent weeks as the number of new cases steadily declined. The latest government figures reported Tuesday listed no new cases.
During the 76-day lockdown, Wuhan residents had been allowed out of their homes only to buy food or attend to other tasks deemed absolutely necessary. Some were allowed to leave the city, but only if they had paperwork showing they were not a health risk and a letter attesting to where they were going and why.
Now residents are allowed to go out as long as a mandatory smartphone application - powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance - shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus (as reported by AP News).
The occasion was marked with a light show on either side of the broad Yangtze river, with skyscrapers and bridges radiating animated images of health workers aiding patients, along with one displaying the words 'heroic city', a title bestowed on Wuhan by president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.
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Along the embankments and bridges, citizens waved flags, chanted 'Wuhan, let's go,' and sang a capella renditions of China's national anthem.
Shortly after the outbreak of the coronavirus (otherwise known as Covid-19), China cancelled all trains and flights, with checkpoints being set up on roads into the central province.
Now the lockdown has ended, traffic moved swiftly through the newly reopened bridges, tunnels and highway toll booths, while hundreds waited for the first trains and flights out of the city, many hoping to return to jobs elsewhere.
However, an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party's newspaper warned that the fight against coronavirus in the region was far from over.
It said: "This day that people have long been looking forward to and it is right to be excited. However, this day does not mark the final victory. At this moment, we still need to remind ourselves that as Wuhan is unblocked, we can be pleased, but we must not relax."
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Featured Image Credit: PA