Wuhan City, the COVID-19 epicenter, ends lockdown after 11 weeks.
After 76 days of closing its doors to the world, the coronavirus epicenter Wuhan in China ended its lockdown.
As of just after midnight Wednesday, authorities allowed Wuhan residents to travel around and outside the city for the first time in 11 weeks. Its quarantine began January 23, where 11 million people were put under total lockdown.
People from Wuhan would not need special authorization to go out, but they need to cooperate with the government surveillance, which monitors their health and if they have not been in recent contact with any COVID-19 patient. The monitoring is done through mandatory smartphone application powered by data-tracking technology.
Wuhan celebrated the end of the lockdown through a light show either side of the broad Yangtze river, with skyscrapers and bridges projecting the images of health workers caring for patients along with the words “heroic city.” China President and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping gave that title to Wuhan.
Along with the dams and bridges, citizens waved flags, chanted “Wuhan, let’s go!” and sang a capella renditions of China’s national anthem.
Virus epicenter Wuhan ends lockdown
“It’s like being liberated,” said Zhang Kaizhong, 51. He was one of the rows of cars waiting to get out of Wuhan. Zhang went to visit his son in Wuhan a day before the lockdown and has not seen his wife for more than 70 days. “I miss her very much,” he said. “Of course, I am very excited.”
Meanwhile, others said they were rushing to go home, get back to work, attend a funeral, or avoiding heavy traffic by Wednesday morning.
“I should have been back much earlier,” said Lu, 36, who was on his way back to Shenzhen in the south where he works. He has stayed at home for the last three months. “After all this time, Wuhan has finally been opened,” he said.
China Eastern said it was operating 30 flights from Wuhan to other cities in China, like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou, with more than 1,600 trips booked. More than 55,000 passengers have booked tickets to leave the city, according to the railway operator. Long-distance buses have also resumed service.
As of this writing, China has a total of 81,740 cases of COVID-19 and 3,331 deaths with no new cases and fatalities recorded.