How life in Wuhan is returning to normal after coronavirus lockdown lifted

At the stroke of midnight, cars crossed the city border out of Wuhan for the first time in 76 days signalling an end to its lockdown.

The Government has described April 8 as the day to "unseal’" the city and resume the transport links, which were cut off on January 23 in a bid to contain Covid-19.

When the people of Wuhan went into home quarantine, the virus didn’t even have a name, there was no indication that it would spread across the world and claim so many lives.

Barriers are removed in Wuhan as the city returns back to normal. Credit: AP

As life slowly returns to the streets, we found people happy, of course, at the freedom to meet up with friends, to take a stroll in the street and to do their own shopping.

But there is a nervousness too.

In the past few days, more than 70 residential compounds which were reopened have been forced to reintroduce their restrictions after new cases of the virus were detected.

Yet, official figures appear to show the spread has all but stopped.

It was convenient that on the eve of Wuhan opening up China reached the milestone of reporting no deaths from coronavirus for the first time since January.

  • ITV News Asia Correspondent reports from Wuhan, China

There are many people we have spoken to, even doctors in Wuhan, who don’t trust the numbers given by the Government. For reasons of scepticism on behalf of the public.

But from medics, it’s mostly due to the fact that in the chaos that engulfed the city in the early weeks of the outbreak many, potentially thousands, of deaths and cases went undiagnosed and therefore unreported.

Sadly, other countries are now experiencing similar difficulties due to the volume of cases and the inability of their hospitals and health care systems to cope.

The lifting of travel restrictions in Wuhan is going to be another major test for the strict checks in place, not only in the city where this world pandemic began, but for the rest of China.

Since we arrived back in Wuhan yesterday evening we haven’t been able to enter any building, apart from our hotel, because we cannot scan the code required to enter every shop, restaurant, office and housing community.

Credit: AP

It is open only to Chinese nationals and links their ID numbers to their phone, which keeps a track on the temperature checks they’ve had and where they have been in the country.

Only when you’ve been in one city for more than 14 days and shown no signs or symptoms of the virus, you are free to travel. And it is on that basis that people will be allowed to leave Wuhan on Wednesday.

55,000 people are expected to leave on the first day and many of the five million who fled as the lockdown was imposed are likely to try to return.

That movement adds to the fear and prospect of a second wave of infections and many are opting to stay indoors, despite having the freedom to leave.

Tonight, a light display lit up buildings on the banks of the Yangtze River in Wuhan, on the surface, at least, this looked to be a city in celebration.