(TMU) — The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first detected, has been on lockdown for two and a half months with no one able to enter or leave. When the city finally reopened on Wednesday, many residents decided to flee the region instead of getting back to work or back to their social lives.
The Associated Press reports that about 65,000 people fled the city as soon as the lockdown ended.
According to Bloomberg, people visiting Wuhan over the Lunar New Year vacation who found themselves stuck in the city as the outbreak grew and Hubei province was locked down were finally able to leave. Among those leaving were the tens of thousands of medical workers from across China who travelled to the province to help over the course of the lockdown.
Thousands of travelers rushed to train stations and airports to escape the city where they experienced 11 weeks on lockdown. The roads leading outside of the city were also packed with an unusual amount of traffic.
— Adriano Del Monte (@adriandelmonte) April 8, 2020
Precautions have been taken on flights as airlines start to fly people out of Wuhan for the first time since the city was locked down.
According to NoosaNews, a chief flight attendant said that crews will wear goggles, masks, and gloves throughout all of their flights.
Before leaving the city, residents of Wuhan are being required to download a mandatory phone app that is being used to track whether or not they are healthy and if they have come into contact with the novel coronavirus.
Some Chinese cities have implemented their own security measures for residents traveling from Wuhan. For example, in Beijing officials are requiring anyone who is entering the city from Wuhan to take two health screenings and submit to a 14-day quarantine at an “approved site.” Many other cities throughout the country have implemented similar protocols for travelers coming from Wuhan.
The lockdown was likely a traumatizing experience for many of the city’s residents who were trapped indoors at the hands of a technologically advanced police state. After midnight passed on the last day of the lockdown, celebrations and cheering were heard throughout the city and residents were seen singling and dancing in the streets. Buildings and skyscrapers all over Wuhan were lit up with light shows and animations, which paid tribute to the city’s medical workers.
Given it’s past midnight on April 8 in China, #Wuhanlockdown has officially ended. This is how the city welcomed the new dawn, lighting up buildings in the colour of the National flag, reminiscent of Beijing displays that read “Wuhan add gas” after lockdown began on January 23. pic.twitter.com/Nf9OTq39Bz
— Yuan Ren (@girlinbeijing) April 7, 2020
Now that everyone is getting back to work, many new precautions are in place throughout the city including health checks before entering buildings and even more surveillance than the region had before. All schools and many businesses throughout the city are still closed but grocery stores and other life sustaining businesses that were previously shuttered have reopened.
Benjamin Cowling, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Hong Kong University, said that officials will consider bringing back the lockdown if there is a deadly second wave of the virus
“I think China is keeping a close eye on COVID-19 detections and may need to tune the social distancing measures that are needed to keep COVID-19 contained. For now, it may be OK to relax some measures, but those measures should be tightened if case numbers pick up,” Cowling said, according to the Toronto Sun.
It is not entirely clear how prevalent the virus still is in Wuhan, or in China in general, because official numbers from the government have been untrustworthy, as they have been around the world. According to Newsweek, there could be tens of thousands of coronavirus deaths in China based on a rise in the number of cremations.