Life started returning to normal on Wednesday after two months of lockdown in Hubei province, the epicentre of China’s coronavirus outbreak, with traffic controls lifted, construction resuming and people catching buses and trains across once-shut borders.
Mainland China also reported a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases to 47 on Tuesday, all of them in travellers returning home, down from 78 infections reported a day earlier.
Hubei, a central province that is home to some 60 million people, had announced on Tuesday that it was removing travel restrictions at midnight.
On Wednesday evening in Xianning, residents strolled outside, carrying groceries or buying takeaway. Restaurants were only serving food for takeaway. Loudspeakers blared out promotions like buy one get one free. Everyone wore masks.
The lockdown of Hubei’s capital Wuhan will be lifted on April 8, a milestone in China’s war against the epidemic as Beijing shifts its focus towards stemming imported cases and rebooting the economy.
In Wuhan, there were also signs of normal life returning. Men in protective masks worked on a bridge as construction projects resumed, and residents waved from their apartment windows as a visiting medical team prepared to leave the city.
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