China plans to lift its lockdown on Wuhan -- ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic -- on April 8, more than two months after the city was sealed off from the outside world, marking a significant milestone in its battle against the deadly virus.
Similar lockdown measures will be lifted Wednesday for other cities in Hubei, a central province home to 60 million people, of which Wuhan is the capital -- provincial authorities announced Tuesday.
“This is the day I’ve been waiting for,” Bo Hanlin, a photographer living in Wuhan who has been confined to his home for two months, told CNN.
Over the past week, there have been signs that the authorities wanted to gradually return life to normal in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people.
Some residents have been allowed to go back to work as long as their employers issue them a letter, Bo said, adding that he had not been able to because he does not have a company to issue him a letter. “I hope we’ll be allowed to leave our compound soon,” he said.
Food delivery services have gradually resumed over the past week, according to Bo, and some restaurants inside residential communities have reopened. But residents, apart from those returning to work, are still not allowed to leave their compounds, and supermarkets remain closed, he added.
Easing of restrictions: Starting from Wednesday, people in Hubei, except Wuhan, will be allowed to leave the province if they have a green QR code on their mobile phones, the provincial government said in a notice on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform.
The green code indicates they have no fever, are not a confirmed or suspected case, or a close contact of one. On April 8, the easing of restrictions will be extended to Wuhan, and residents with a green QR code will be able to leave the city and the province.
People from other parts of China will be allowed to enter Hubei and Wuhan if they can produce a green QR code, with no additional paperwork required. Businesses in Wuhan will also gradually resume operations, based on risk assessment, while the reopening dates for schools and universities remain to be determined, authorities said.
Infections fall to a trickle: The easing of travel restrictions comes as the number of reported new infections in Hubei dropped to zero for five consecutive days from March 19 -- from thousands of daily new cases at the height of the epidemic in February. On Tuesday, the province reported one new case in Wuhan, a doctor at the Hubei General Hospital.
Hubei has accounted for the majority of infections and deaths in China, with 67,801 cases and 3,160 fatalities reported as of Monday.
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