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    Coronavirus: Wuhan set to end lockdown

    Travel and public transport will return to normal as China lifts the final lockdown measures on the 11 million inhabitants living in Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic. © Belga

    Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus (Covid-19) was first detected, is set to lift its final lockdown restrictions on Wednesday at midnight.

    Authorities are set to take the final steps for the city of 11 million, a population the size of Belgium’s, to return to life before a stringent lockdown was first imposed over two and a half months ago on 23 January.

    From Wednesday at midnight (6:00 PM on Tuesday in Belgium), restrictions on transport networks will be lifted.

    Restrictions on travel outside of the city and its province, Hubei, will also be lifted for residents with a “green health code,” granted by an app rolled out by the government to track the virus’ spread through personal data.

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    In late March, Chinese authorities announced that they would gradually loosen the lockdown on the pandemic’s ground zero after the number of new infections in Wuhan dropped to zero on 19 March.

    The city’s gradual return to normalcy has been fraught with contradictions, as fears of new infection clusters appearing frustrate authorities’ attempts to jump-start activities, with recently reopened venues, like cinemas or karaoke bars, ordered to shut down again.

    Since the virus was detected at the end of January, over 80,000 people China, out of whom 50,000 in Wuhan, are reported to have contracted it and more than 3,200 have died.

    The official figures have faced criticism from international governments and have also been challenged by Chinese residents, who have said the figures do not coincide with the number of bodies in funeral homes.

    Since late March, the number of daily deaths in Wuhan has receded consistently and has only reported two new cases in the past fortnight, but China is striving to contain a new outbreak from abroad, and has begun testing all international arrivals, according to Reuters.

    The programmed lifting of Wuhan’s lockdown coincides with reports that, for the virus time since the start of the year, no new coronavirus deaths were reported in China.

    In Europe, the Austrian and Danish governments were the first to announce they will begin taking steps to lift their own national lockdowns, imposed on 10 March and 13 March, respectively.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times