WUHAN, China (Reuters) - Tentative signs of normal life are returning to Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus epidemic was first documented, after a 76-day lockdown that turned it into a virtual ghost town.
Authorities in the city of 11 million on Wednesday lifted the draconian curbs they put in place in January, allowing residents to leave by car, rail and plane, taxis to resume operations and more non-essential businesses to re-open.
Shoppers on Thursday streamed into Wuhan’s main shopping belt, Chu River and Han Street, where international brands including Nike and Lego have stores and which was virtually deserted last month as the shops were shut.
People also took advantage of warm weather to head to the banks of the freshwater East Lake, filling up its parking lots, while cars returned to the road leading to Wuhan’s reopened Hankou Railway station.
But traffic levels remained far below the close-to-gridlock levels that used to plague the city, as national government recommendations that people to refrain from going out unnecessarily remain in place.
During the lockdown, public transport was shut down, roads were blocked and people ordered to stay at home to stay home to try and stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Even so, more than 50,000 people became infected in Wuhan, and more than 2,500 of them died, about 80% of all fatalities in China, according to official figures.
The tough restrictions are credited with helping to bring about a sharp drop in the numbers of locally transmitted cases in Wuhan and China at a time when the virus has evolved into a global pandemic.
Reporting by Brenda Goh; editing by John Stonestreet