China

Coronavirus cradle Wuhan partly reopens after lockdown

Passengers arrive at the railway station in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on 28 March 2020, after travel restrictions into the city were eased Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many of those arriving in Wuhan on Saturday pulled suitcases behind them as they returned to their families

The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation.

Crowds of passengers were pictured arriving at Wuhan train station on Saturday.

People are being allowed to enter but not leave, according to reports.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, saw more than 50,000 coronavirus cases. At least 3,000 people in Hubei died from the disease.

But numbers have fallen dramatically, according to China's figures. On Saturday the province reported 54 new cases emerging the previous day - which it said were all imported.

As it battles to control cases coming from abroad, China has announced a temporary ban on all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits. It is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per week, and flights must not be more than 75% full.

In other global developments:

Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread rapidly in other countries around the world.

  • More than 600,000 infections have been confirmed globally and almost 29,000 deaths, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 136,000 patients have recovered
  • The death toll in Spain has exceeded 5,000, after it reported 832 more fatalities in the past 24 hours. Spain is the world's worst hit country after Italy
  • The US now has the highest number of confirmed infections at 104,000
  • South Korea says that for the first time it now has more people who have recovered from the virus than are still infected. It reported 146 new cases on Saturday, taking the total to 9,478 - of whom 4,811 have been released from hospital
  • Russia and Ireland are among the latest countries to bring in new restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus. In Russia, shopping centres, restaurants and cafes have been ordered to close. In Ireland, people will have to stay at home with limited exceptions for the next two weeks
  • In the UK, frontline National Health Service staff in England will begin being tested this weekend to see if they have coronavirus

What signs are there of Wuhan reopening?

The virus is thought to have originated in a seafood market in Wuhan that "conducted illegal transactions of wild animals".

The city's 11 million residents have been shut off from the rest of the world since the middle of January, with roadblocks around the outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life.

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Media captionCoronavirus: Life inside China's lockdown

But roads reopened to incoming traffic late on Friday, according to Reuters news agency.

And state media said the subway was open from Saturday and trains would be able to arrive at the city's 17 railway stations.

Nineteen-year-old student Guo Liangkai, who arrived back in the city after three months, told Reuters: "First of all, it makes me very happy to see my family.

"We wanted to hug but now is a special period so we can't hug or make any actions like these."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mask-clad passengers waited in a line after arriving at the railway station in Wuhan on Saturday

All arrivals in Wuhan have to show a green code on a mobile app to prove that they are healthy.

Officials say restrictions on people leaving the city will be lifted on 8 April, when domestic flights are also expected to restart.

The virus emerged in China in December and more than 3,300 people there have died from the infection - but both Italy and Spain now have higher death tolls.