6 months pass since Wuhan lockdown, original epicenter of COVID-19

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 23 2020 06:28 PM

WUHAN, China - Thursday marked 6 months since a drastic lockdown was imposed in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, with the number of new symptomatic patients remaining at zero for more than 2 months in the central Chinese city.

After the 76-day lockdown was lifted on April 8, municipal authorities carried out virus tests for almost all residents at a cost of about 900 million yuan ($128.6 million) in the city with a population of some 11 million.

As citizens in Wuhan have been already allowed to travel to other regions in China, the local government has been stepping up efforts to revitalize the economy in the capital of Hubei province, known as a business and transportation hub in the region.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has so far killed more than 3,800 people in Wuhan and left 50,000 others ill, while the number of infections has exceeded 83,500 and the death toll topped 4,600 across the mainland, according to health authorities.

A ban on group tours to other provinces was lifted last Saturday. A travel agency in Wuhan said Yunnan Province and Hainan Island, where virus cases are relatively few, have been popular tourist destinations.

In Wuhan, city life has started to get back to normal, with many workers commuting in overcrowded trains and children playing outside without wearing protective face masks.

"Wuhan is the safest place in the nation now," a 51-year-old local man said.

In late May, around 140 Japanese who were evacuated from Wuhan earlier this year in the wake of the epidemic returned there on a chartered plane.

Economic activities have resumed, but there is concern that flood damage triggered by recent torrential rain has impacted them.

Countries such as Australia and the United States have suspected that the new virus originated from an infectious diseases laboratory in Wuhan. Although the World Health Organization sent a team to China to investigate in July, a field survey in Wuhan has not been realized.

People who have lost their families due to the pandemic have been trying to hold the local government and other entities accountable, but Chinese authorities are believed to be suppressing their protests.