On Wednesday, the Chinese city of Wuhan emerged from its 76-day containment, with 11 million residents now able to move around both the city and the country – provided their “health code” issued by the government goes green.
Wuhan held a big show with the theme “Heroic City, Heroic People” to celebrate the reopening of the central city in China where the virus first appeared at the end of last year. But the trauma and isolation of the past two months has taken its toll: more than 2,500 residents of Wuhan have died from the coronavirus and tens of thousands have been hospitalized, according to official figures. Now people have to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
“Even if the epidemic could end, for some groups of people, the trauma could start,” said Du Mingjun, who has set up a 24-hour mental health hotline, to a Reuters reporter in Wuhan. .
Authorities had been careful to allow Wuhan out of his quarantine, gradually allowing various parts of the city to return to a semblance of normal over the past week. The last barrier appeared at midnight on Wednesday, when people were allowed to leave Wuhan for the first time since its full lockdown on January 23. Cars and trucks were lined up for hours at the 76 toll booths in the city. A Phoenix TV reporter posted a video of the cars streaming.
“I am very excited,” said Li Qing, from Wuhan, at a toll station so that he can resume work in Jiangsu province, said the Sixth Tone website. “The city cannot stay closed forever – we have to go to work. “
It is estimated that more than 55,000 people will leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday, 40 percent of which will head to the southern manufacturing center in Guangdong. The first flight to leave Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan since the city lifted the lock was a China Eastern plane to Sanya, a city on the seaside island of Hainan.
Most of those who left seemed to be migrant workers trying to return to work elsewhere in China. The lockdown started the day before the Lunar New Year holidays, often the only time of year when people can visit their hometown and family.
But the Communist Party secretary for Hubei Province, Ying Yong, said that Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, did not come out of the woods. “Zero new infections don’t mean zero risk in the epidemic,” Ying said on Tuesday. “The lifting of the traffic restriction does not mean the lifting of measures to combat epidemics; reopening the city gate does not mean that we have to open the doors of our homes. ”
The Hubei government has urged residents not to go out unless necessary, and if they go out, wear masks.