Mass exodus in coronavirus-hit Hubei as lockdown lifts

2020-03-25 17:52
File photo - People in Hubei are leaving after the lockdown was lifted.

File photo - People in Hubei are leaving after the lockdown was lifted.

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Huge crowds jammed trains and buses in Hubei province on Wednesday as people seized their first chance to travel after two months under lockdown at the epicentre of China's coronavirus outbreak.

Strict curbs on daily life are finally being lifted, allowing healthy people to head home and see loved ones after weeks of separation.

At a railway station in the city of Macheng, AFP reporters saw long lines of people lugging suitcases in the rain as they queued for trains.

Children in masks were among those waiting, while guards directed the crowds and station announcements offered details of trains to destinations across the country.

Leaving

Footage from state news agency Xinhua showed migrant workers in Huanggang - one of the cities worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak - queuing for long-distance coaches with bags and suitcases.

One unnamed worker said he was returning to Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province.

"I have been at home in Hubei for more than two months," he said.

Railway stations and airports began opening from Wednesday - with the exception of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei where the virus is believed to have emerged late last year at a food market selling wild animals.

But thirty highways leading into Wuhan were re-opened as of Wednesday morning, state media said, with videos showing the roads jam-packed.

Businesses in the province have also returned to work.

Homecoming

Hubei natives are also taking the chance to return home from elsewhere in China.

People are now allowed to travel in or out of Hubei as long as they have a "green" health code issued by authorities showing they are not infected by the virus which has claimed more than 3,200 lives in China.

Beijing ordered the shutdown of Hubei in January to contain the spread beyond the province but has been gradually easing rules as numbers have dwindled.

Read more on:    china  |  coronavirus
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