Homecoming in Wuhan - Ng Han Guan / AP / SIPA

Symbolic. At midnight on Wednesday, the quarantine was lifted in Wuhan, the cradle of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, where more than 11 million people have been confined since January 23. Thousands of travelers immediately stormed the stations, the first in two and a half months.

Hao Mei, from Enshi, a town 450 km to the west, explains that she had to leave her two children alone for more than two months because she found herself trapped at the end of January in Wuhan, where she works in a canteen. school. "I got up at 4 am today. It feels so good! Explains the 39-year-old woman before getting on the train. “At first, I cried every night. I was very bad because my daughter is still young. She is barely 10 years old. "

Authorities estimate that 55,000 people are scheduled to leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday. Countless cars and coaches passed tolls at the city limits after the roadblocks were lifted.

Quarantine has paid off

Wuhan is by far the most mourning place for the epidemic in China: more than 2,500 people died there, out of a total of more than 3,330 deaths counted in the country. Health authorities have pointed to a market in Wuhan selling live exotic animals, where the new coronavirus could have been transmitted to humans.

The rest of the surrounding Hubei province was also cordoned off from late January to late March. Tens of millions of people were affected. With the spread of the virus around the world, many countries have adopted similar measures. Half of humanity is now under some form of confinement.

But if the pandemic still worries in many parts of the world, the closure of Wuhan seems to have paid off. The dramatic plunge in recent weeks in cases of contamination and deaths in China, however, is accompanied by doubts about the reliability of official figures.

Families have reported that people who died at home or were not tested were not counted at the start of the epidemic when hospitals were overcrowded. "Wuhan deserves to be called a city of heroes," proclaimed a message released Wednesday at a city station.

"The Wuhan people will have paid a heavy price," said Mr. Yao, a 21-year-old young man who is boarding a train bound for Shanghai (east) where he works in a restaurant. “We are happy that the closure is lifted. "

Green code

In a station, a robot circulated Wednesday in the middle of the crowd of travelers, spraying disinfectant on their feet, with a recorded message reminding to wear a mask.

Passengers had to undergo temperature checks and show a green QR code on their smartphones. Issued by the authorities, it justifies that one is not hit by the Covid-19 and that one does not live in a district always considered to be at risk. The city's airport has also resumed operations.

" Happy to see you again "

The Chinese newspapers unanimously welcomed the lifting of the closure, with a headline that often came back: "Wuhan, nice to see you again after all this time". But despite the lifting of the blocking, the return to normal will not be immediate. Various restrictions are maintained in order to avoid a second epidemic wave. Schools remain closed. And residents are encouraged not to leave the city or even their homes.

In addition, faced with fears vis-à-vis Wuhanans in other places in the country, candidates for departure will for the most part have to undergo a quarantine of 14 days in their city of destination.


Coronavirus: Wuhan, life after confinement

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