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A hugely populated metropolis, Wuhan, located on the banks of the Yangzte River, is one of China’s largest industrial hubs. It is also one of the biggest transport hub in the Hubei province and has long been considered the economic engine of the country’s central heartland. It is also the first city to go to lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The first known cases of the virus were detected in Wuhan in mid-December. In the weeks that followed, case numbers spiked and from January 23 until April 8, residents were unable to leave the city as the Chinese government attempted to contain the outbreak. The decision on January 23 to effectively seal off the city, closing all transport links was put into action and slowly the restrictions became more strict. To date, there have been 68,128 reported cases of the novel CORONA virus in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, taking the lives of 4,512 people. As of now, no new cases have been reported from Wuhan or anywhere in the Hubei province and this city is returning back to somewhat normal after months of fear and anxiety.
- Streets that only a few weeks ago were cordoned off behind police checkpoints are now open to traffic.
- Public spaces such as the Wuhan Zoo are preparing to allow people back inside.
- Many stores, including major chains such as Starbucks, have moved their goods and services out onto the sidewalk to avoid the need for customers to congregate inside.
- Walking down the street, almost everyone continues to practice social distancing, keeping at least 1.5 meters (five feet) apart.
- In the first quarter of the year alone, the economy of Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, shrank by almost 40%, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
- Although the city has officially reopened, many business are still shut and most people walking the streets are wearing some form of protective gear, from face masks to full-body protective suits.
- Schools and universities are still closed.
- In recent days, more shops have reopened, often setting up street-front counters so that customers can buy vegetables, alcohol, cigarettes and other goods without entering.
- Railway stations and train operators have stepped up disinfection and inspection protocols across the country, as tens of thousands of Wuhan residents are expected to leave the city this week.
- Residents of Wuhan who have undergone testing have been issued QR codes through a government app. Only those with green codes — meaning they are symptom free and passed a corona virus test — have been permitted to leave their homes. Anyone without such a code will still face restrictions on their movement.
A second wave in Wuhan?
The scars which the virus has left on the minds of the residents of Wuhan is still fresh and bleeding. The businesses there are struggling to rise to their own feet. Moreover, they are crippled with the fear that a second outbreak might occur.
When a reporter of CNN, David Culner, went back to Wuhan after upliftment of the lockdown, he interacted with a few residents and learnt from them that “A second wave is ‘absolutely’ coming”.
A top medical expert has stated a few days back that China and other countries could be hit by a second wave of Corona virus in November. Zhang Wenhong, who heads the Covid-19 clinical expert team in Shanghai and leads the infectious disease department at one of the eastern metropolitan city’s top hospitals, stated that, “While countries around the world may be able to bring the deadly pandemic under adequate control by autumn, the coming winter may bring a ‘second wave’of infections in China and elsewhere”. Zhang’s comments come as Chinese officials gradually eased quarantine restrictions as part of efforts to revive the country’s economy.
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