April 8 will be the first day in more than two months that citizens in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, will be able to leave and enter the city freely.
The rest of the hard-hit province of Hubei will have its lockdown lifted Wednesday. There were zero new cases of COVID-19 found for five days starting March 19 and only one new case Tuesday, CNN reported.
Wuhan was the first city in the world to go on lockdown, and the rest of the cities in Hubei soon followed. The province in central China had most of the nation’s coronavirus cases, at 67,801 cases and 3,160 fatalities reported.
Officials closed down the city of Wuhan on Jan. 23 and one by one the rest of the cities in Hubei, affecting the lives of more than 60 million residents. All flights, trains and buses canceled and highway entrances were blocked and guarded. Residents had to stay at home and were not allowed to leave their compounds.
“This is the day I’ve been waiting for,” Wuhan resident Bo Hanlin told CNN on Tuesday after receiving the news of the lifted rules.
According to Bo, businesses are slowly reopening, and some have been told they can return to work with a letter from their employer and if they check their temperature daily.
“As a Wuhan resident, I feel the risk is still high. What if there is an imported case? We'll have to stay home again,” he said.
Social media users in Wuhan show ed a glimpse of life from behind a two-month strictly enforced quarantine.
Some sang or shouted encouragement from their apartment windows to boost morale.
Others found brief respites in the simple walk to pick up grocery deliveries.
“Getting groceries is both my biggest frustration and my biggest joy. The joy is because picking up your grocery order is the only legitimate reason for being outside. The frustration because we’re restricted to these two apps with very limited timeframes in which to order, as well as very limited goods to order,” Rebecca Arendell Franks, an American expat living in Wuhan, posted on Facebook.
Her latest post Monday showed signs of life in the shutdown city.
“We are happy and hopeful. ... The guards who had been monitoring our building gates are now preoccupied with other things, letting us wander among buildings unhindered. At one post where guards used to stand, there’s now a barber. More cars are leaving the complex now, as some essential personnel have been called back to work. Locks on buildings are gone. People are outside regularly on the basketball courts, walking the grounds, playing on the playground. Life almost feels normal inside our apartment complex!” — Franks in a March 23 post
The Associated Press estimates that about one-fifth of the world is facing lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, experts note that, with Wuhan as an example, harsh measures may be what it takes to flatten the curve.
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