China has lifted the 76-day lockdown on coronavirus ground zero, Wuhan, as the city reemerges from the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) crisis which has accounted for the country’s 81,802 registered cases and 3,333 deaths as of April 8.
China had sealed off the city of 11 million people on January 23 to contain transmission of the virus, which is said to have either originated at a local seafood market or a biosafety lab nearby. Authorities also imposed unprecedented measures, such as banning travel between cities and provinces, and shutting down non-essential businesses to prevent transmission.
The industrial city of Wuhan reported more than 50,000 novel coronavirus cases and over 2,500 deaths, accounting for about 77% of all coronavirus-related deaths in the country, according to the Chinese National Health Commission. Newly recorded cases in China are reportedly imported from abroad, with 32 new cases identified on April 6.
According to state media, the Wuhan lockdown was lifted despite warnings from epidemiologists that there might be a rebound in infections from asymptomatic patients.
Shopping malls reopened
After a minimal number of locally transmitted cases had been reported in the city, many shopping malls in Wuhan reopened, representing a gradual shift back to pre-virus normalcy. The responses were mixed. Customers are scarce and were seen still wearing face masks, while some residents expressed excited to finally be able to go to the mall. “After two months trapped at home, I want to jump,” said a local resident. “I want to revenge shop.”
Most business premises have temperature scanners in place, which are used to check customers’ temperatures before being allowed to enter. Shoppers are also reminded to wear masks and maintain a safe distance from one another.
Residents with confirmed health status allowed travel
From April 8, approved residents will be able to use public transport if they are to provide a quick response (QR) code for scanning, which is unique to each person and is linked to their confirmed health statuses.
Residents who had previously been allowed to visit other parts of Hubei – the province with Wuhan as its capital – are currently not allowed to leave the province. Public transport has been suspended in the city since the lockdown, but when train stations reopened, thousands of commuters were allowed on board.
About 65,000 residents had reportedly left the city within hours of the announcement.