People in Wuhan celebrate traffic jams as the once coronavirus epicentre lifts lockdown

Business Insider US
Medical staff member pose for a group photo after returning home from Wuhan helping with the COVID-19 coronavirus recovery effort, in Bozhou, in China's eastern Anhui province on April 10, 2020.
STR/AFP via Getty Images
  • Life in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began, seems to be returning to normal.
  • Residents are celebrating the return to regular life.
  • "I won't complain about congested traffic again, because it's a sign the streets are flourishing," said one person.
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

In Wuhan, China, the streets are abuzz. Donning masks and protective suits, some public health workers are still spraying disinfectant in well-trafficked areas. But on Wednesday, an 11-week lockdown was lifted, and a sense of normalcy is returning to the city of 11 million, where the novel coronavirus outbreak began in November.

As the threat of the virus fades, some residents welcomed the very aspects of everyday life that make it so monotonous.

"I hated traffic jams before," said one person on Weibo, a popular blogging app, but "now it makes me happy to see them."

"I won't complain about congested traffic again, because it's a sign the streets are flourishing," said another.

At Tianhe International Airport and Wuhan's train stations, long lines are forming again. Tens of thousands of people were expected to travel by plane or train Wednesday, the Independent reported. To travel, residents must show that they have a "green" code on a smartphone application that monitors health, officials told the BBC.

On Tuesday, a day before the lockdown ended, Chinese officials reported zero new deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, for the first time. According to official reports, China has seen 82,940 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 3,340 deaths. Some 77,787 people have recovered.

Wuhan alone claims more than 50,000 of those cases, and at least 2,500 of the deaths.

Some experts dispute China's official coronavirus counts. Even so, the curve is flattening. "Look at the trend," wrote Stephen McDonnell, the BBC's China correspondent. "In the trend there is good news."

In Wuhan, that good news was ushered in with a lightshow throughout the city. Its skyscrapers, along with boats floating down the Yangtze River, were lit up at midnight on Wednesday, as soon as the lockdown ended. Some displays commemorated Wuhan's healthcare workers, whose animated likenesses were displayed on the sides of buildings.

One resident, Tong Zhengkun, watched the show from a bridge over the Yangtze.

"I haven't been outside for more than 70 days," Tong told the Associated Press, explaining that his apartment was shut down after some tenants contracted the coronavirus. He couldn't leave even for groceries. Instead, neighborhood workers delivered them to his door.

"Being indoors for so long drove me crazy," he said.

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