Health

Daily life in coronavirus-stricken Wuhan tentatively returns

By Jesús Centeno

Wuhan, China, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- There are few shops open and few passers-by but Wuhan, the cradle of the coronavirus pandemic, is trying to get back on its feet despite retaining the gruesome title of being China’s worst-hit city.

It still feels like a ghost-town and the tired gazes of those who dare to leave their houses tell of the fatigue caused by a two month lockdown.

At the moment, locals can leave their house if they can prove they are in good health – which is verified by the authorities every day – but they can’t leave the city until the lockdown is officially lifted on 8 April.

The delivery drivers who have managed to keep the 11 million people caught in the lockdown supplied with food continue to circulate the city as usual.

Wuhan accounts for at least 2,543 of China’s 3,300 Covid-19 deaths, although residents quoted by local press believe the numbers could be much higher.

On Friday there were at least five deaths in the city, according to China’s National Health Commission.

The Commission also said 706 of the 742 seriously ill coronavirus patients in China were in Wuhan.

On a more positive note, 45,418 people have recovered from the virus in Wuhan out of the national total of 75,488.

Those figures, coupled with the near-zero local transmission rates, prompted authorities to start reopening the city, albeit gradually.

Although trains have been arriving again in Wuhan since Saturday, the number of passengers is still low and there are strict health controls onboard the train and on the platform.

On the train from Beijing, uniformed guards meticulously check medical documentation and janitors clean the bathrooms every time a passenger uses them.

Upon arrival in Wuhan, several agents dressed in white protective suits ask a series of questions: Where have you come from? Where are you staying? Why are you traveling?

Local authorities also ask you to produce a scannable QR code or a doctor’s note stating that you have undergone a period of quarantine in another Chinese city, which could be viewed as paradoxical, since not all local authorities have enforced such measures.

Those who need to secure such a justification enter into a bureaucratic whirlwind in which the provision of authorization to visit Wuhan or use the city’s metro, depends largely on the person who processes your application.

“It’s a tricky moment,” a Spanish doctor in Wuhan – the only one in the city – told Efe.

He works on the metro, going from wagon to wagon reminding passengers they must wear their masks at all times and maintain distance between others.

The metro and the bus network have sputtered back to life given the lack of taxi service in the city.

Soon the city’s emblematic ferries will resume their journeys across the Yangtze river.

Flights to and from Hubei province – with the exception of Wuhan, the capital, – started again on Sunday.

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