Restarting the normal life in China's hardest-hit city amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be a milestone for the overall prevention and control work in China.
Wuhan, where the coronavirus that has killed almost 75,000 people began, will allow people to leave the city on Wednesday (local time) for the first time since a total lockdown was imposed on January 23.
For the city’s population, the resumption of normal life will be grabbed with both hands after more than two months of isolation, even as epidemiologists warned that it is not the time to completely lower the guard and ease on full-scale restrictions, especially for community-based epidemic control work, considering there are asymptomatic patients and possible second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Local airport and train stations in Wuhan are scheduled to resume operations after the unprecedented 76-day city lockdown that helped slow the virus’ transmission to other parts of the country and delayed the spread to other countries, as a medical journal recently estimated, by nearly 80%.
Restarting the normal life in China’s hardest-hit city amid the novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) epidemic will be a milestone for the overall prevention and control work in China.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) April 7, 2020
Wang Zhonglin, Wuhan’s Party chief, told a public meeting that epidemic prevention and control work would not be relaxed and authorities have to continue carrying out strict community-based monitoring and management, making sure that there is not a rebound in new infections following a reopening of the roads in to the city. No-one is allowed in public without a mask or a personal certificate.
“We’ve experienced this unforgettable period, it’s not easy, but we made it,” Huang Yan, a 30-year-old local resident who underwent self-quarantine at home since January 23, told the Global Times.
Huang said it was the second day since he returned to work after his company gave him a personal certificate with which he could leave the residential compound where he lives.
“Before returning to work, we need to apply for a green health code on my smartphone. By scanning the code and showing the certificate at the entrance of my residential building, I could go out,” he said.
“Everywhere I go, I need to scan a QR code, then those places I visit would be on the record,” he added.
Restaurants, hotels, shops, buses and subway stations ask people in Wuhan to scan their health code to register each person’s trajectory to monitor transmission routes if a confirmed patient is found with a similar trajectory, which shows that China is using data to track down coronavirus infection cases.
“Local people in Wuhan use the health code and are prepared to gradually resume work and return to normalcy. Restarting Wuhan also shows that China has placed the epidemic under control,” Yang Zhanqiu, a virologist at Wuhan University, told the Global Times.
Everyone returning to work in Wuhan has had to undergo health tests and if anyone has coronavirus the authorities are informed and ask about the workers’ travel history to analyse their possible contagion origin.
China has shut its borders to foreigners, though most imported cases of COVID-19 have involved Chinese nationals returning from overseas. International flights have been slashed to around 3,000 a day in April from the tens of thousands previously.
All international arrivals are being tested for the coronavirus.