Coronavirus outbreak: Wuhan reopens amid soaring cases

Updated: Apr 09, 2020, 10:20 IST | Agencies | Wuhan

Chinese officials say number of fresh COVID-19 cases crosses 1,000, record two new deaths

The lockdown that served as a model for countries battling Coronavirus around the world has ended after 11 weeks: Chinese authorities are allowing residents of Wuhan once again to travel in and out of the city where the pandemic began. As of just after midnight Wednesday, the city's 11 million residents are now permitted to leave without special authorisation as long as a mandatory smartphone application powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance shows they are healthy and have not been in recent contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus.

"I haven't been outside for more than 70 days," said an emotional Tong Zhengkun, who was watching the display from a bridge. Residents in his apartment complex had contracted COVID-19, so the entire building was shut down. He couldn't go out even to buy groceries, which neighborhood workers brought to his door. "Being indoors for so long drove me crazy," he said.

Prevention measures such as wearing masks, temperature checks and limiting access to residential communities will remain in place in Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei. In an editorial, the ruling Communist Party's flagship People's Daily warned against celebrating too soon. The city was reopened even as even as the number of fresh COVID-19 cases crossed 1,000 in the country and two new deaths heightened concerns of a rebound in infections.

A woman adjusts her child's mask outside Hankou Railway Station in the capital city of Hubei province in China, as thousands of relieved citizens streamed out of the city, the epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday after months of lockdown was lifted. Pics/AFP
A woman adjusts her child's mask outside Hankou Railway Station in the capital city of Hubei province in China, as thousands of relieved citizens streamed out of the city, the epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday after months of lockdown was lifted. Pics/AFP

The Chinese health authority said on Wednesday that 62 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported on the Chinese mainland on Tuesday, including 59 cases of people returning from abroad, taking the total tally to 1,042. Three new domestic cases were reported, including two in Shandong Province and one in Guangdong Province, the National Health Commission (NHC) said. Also on Tuesday, 137 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were reported and 1,095 asymptomatic cases were still under medical observation, the NHC said.

757 deaths in Spain
Several other parts of the world, too, continued to report cases and deaths. Spain recorded a second successive daily rise in Coronavirus-related deaths with 757 fatalities, lifting the total toll to 14,555, the health ministry said on Wednesday. The number of new infections in the world's second hardest-hit country after Italy also grew to 146,690, up from 140,510, it added. In Scotland. death toll rose to 366 with the country recording 70 new deaths, BBC reported. Another BBC report stated that with more than 1,800 deaths, the US on Tuesday reported the most casualties in a single day.

Japan's capital Tokyo recorded the highest spike in infections on Wednesday — the first day of state of emergency — since the outbreak, Reuters cited public broadcaster NHK. The total count in Tokyo went up to 1,339. WHO regional director Dr Hans Henri P Kluge has warned that the time has not come yet to relax the measures to fight COVID-19, according to the Guardian. Nearly 60 per cent of 217 people — many from Australia, Europe and the US -- on board a cruise ship off the coast of Uruguay have tested positive for Coronavirus, the ship's operator said on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to put a "very powerful" hold on US' funding to the World Health Organisation, accusing it of being "very China centric" and criticising it for having "missed the call" in its response to the pandemic. Meanwhile, in South Africa, cases of infection rose to 1,749 and the virus has so far killed 13 people. President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday placed on special leave a minister seen lunching at a friend's house in violation of the three-week national lockdown to contain the virus.

76
No. of days Wuhan was under lockdown

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