A breath of fresh air in Hubei. This province of central China began Wednesday to open its doors, after having been cut off from the rest of the country since the end of January at the start of the coronavirus epidemic.
Trains and coaches are taken by storm, and traffic jams are back on the roads. In front of Macheng station, a city of 800,000 inhabitants, a crowd accompanied by children were lining up in the rain to buy a ticket and leave the province, de facto cut off from the rest of the country since the end of January.
Wuhan will have to wait until April 8
The Chinese government announced on Tuesday that travel restrictions would be lifted under certain conditions from midnight (4:00 p.m. GMT) for all of Hubei, with the exception of its capital, Wuhan, where the new coronavirus appeared late. 2019, before spreading worldwide. The city’s quarantine of 11 million inhabitants will not be lifted until April 8.
The province, which has more than 50 million inhabitants, was by far the most affected by the epidemic which killed nearly 3,300 people in China, out of more than 80,000 cases of contamination.
The closure of the province occurred just before the long break of the Chinese New Year, when millions of migrant workers, employed in major cities in the east or south of the country, had returned to their home province.
Thousands of Chinese to return to work
Thousands of migrants are desperately waiting to be able to return to their place of work, on which their families depend for their livelihood. In Huanggang, a city of 7 million inhabitants among the most affected by the epidemic, workers loaded with luggage were thus waiting to board buses leaving the province, according to images broadcast by the agency Chine nouvelle.
In addition to long-distance rail and road transportation, three provincial airports were scheduled to reopen on Wednesday, but Wuhan was not.
Authorities said only healthy people could travel – which must be certified electronically by a green QR code saved on their phones.
Trains should be allowed to drop passengers off in Wuhan this Saturday. If it is still forbidden to leave the city, about thirty access roads leading to Wuhan were reopened Wednesday to motorists with a green code, according to Chinese media, who broadcast images of long traffic jams on the roads .
Hubei residents banned in Beijing
Across the country, no new cases of contamination of local origin have been detected in the past 24 hours, but 47 cases “imported” from abroad have been identified, bringing the total to 474. Four additional deaths have have been reported, including three in Hubei.
Contagion has dropped considerably in the past month in China, to the point that the country has lagged behind Italy in terms of death toll.
This fears a second wave of contamination in China by imported cases. Many cities have strict rules for quarantining new arrivals.
This is the case of Beijing, which continues to require a 14-day quarantine for all visitors from abroad or from another province. People from Hubei remain completely prohibited from entering the capital.
VIDEO. Coronavirus: Wuhan to be released from confinement on April 8