A photo circulating online has sparked fears of a dramatic second coronavirus wave in the city where the novel pathogen is believed to have first spread to humans.
Images of a once deserted city – ground zero in what has now become a global pandemic – have been replaced by pictures of packed train stations and bustling streets in Wuhan as restrictions are eased.
China sealed off the city of 11 million people in late January to stop the spread of the virus. But as much of the world now deals with a similar fate, Wuhan has ended a two-month lockdown allowing healthy residents and visitors to finally leave.
And judging by at least one image posted widely on social media, the flood gates have opened.
Some 55,000 people were expected to leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday as thousands packed the train station looking to get out.
By early morning, more than 10,000 had left by plane, a Hubei airport official said, according to Reuters.
Still, Wuhan residents have been urged not to leave the province, their city or even their neighbourhood unless absolutely necessary.
People from Wuhan arriving in Beijing will have to undergo two rounds of testing for the virus.
China is maintaining strict screening protocols, concerned about any resurgence in domestic transmissions due to virus carriers who exhibit no symptoms and infected travellers arriving from overseas.
As the Wuhan lockdown was lifted, a northern Chinese town started restricting the movement of its residents amid concerns of a second wave of infections as the province of Heilongjiang reported a jump in cases, attributed to infected travellers arriving from Russia.
More than 50,000 people in Wuhan caught the virus and more than 2500 of them died, about 80 per cent of all deaths in China, according to official figures.
However intelligence agencies in the US and UK have accused China of significantly understating the true figures of its coronavirus outbreak.
– with Reuters
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