Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province and the suspected point-of-origin of the novel Coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday lifted a 76-day lockdown that it had imposed to halt the spread of the virus. The restrictions on air travel were also lifted as a China Eastern aeroplane departed from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 7:24 to Sanya in South China’s Hainan Province on Wednesday becoming the first commercial flight leaving the airport after 76-days of lockdown.
In the video, a visibly happy passenger can be seen entering the plane waving at the flight officials. All the passengers entering were being screened as well.
A China Eastern airplane departs from #Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 7:24 to Sanya in South China’s Hainan Province on Wed. It is the first flight leaving the airport after Wuhan's 76-day lockdown. pic.twitter.com/jyjeHvb9ke— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) April 8, 2020
Restrictions in the city where most of China's more than 82,000 virus cases and over 3,300 deaths were reported to have been gradually relaxed in recent weeks as the number of new cases steadily declined. The latest government figures reported Tuesday listed no new cases.
While there are questions about the veracity of China's count, the unprecedented lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding province of Hubei have been successful enough that countries around the world adopted similar measures.
During the 76-day lockdown, Wuhan residents had been allowed out of their homes only to buy food or attend to other tasks deemed absolutely necessary. Some were allowed to leave the city, but only if they had paperwork showing they were not a health risk and a letter attesting to where they were going and why.
Even then, authorities could turn them back on a technicality such as missing a stamp, preventing thousands from returning to their jobs outside the city. Wuhan is a major centre for heavy industry, particularly autos, and while many major plants have restarted production, the small and medium-sized businesses that provide the most employment are still hurting from both a lack of workers and demand.
(With inputs from AP)