Wuhan, cradle of pandemic, fears imported cases

Cradle of the new coronavirus, Wuhan has started to reopen to the outside world. But what the Chinese city now fears after two months of isolation is that the disease will return, conveyed by its exiled inhabitants or by foreigners.
As a result of a marked improvement in the local health situation, the restrictions on the capital of Hubei have started to be lifted: the local station started to accept trains from elsewhere on Saturday and traffic resumed on the motorways .

And it’s a tide of locals who rushed to return, having been away from their city for at least ten weeks.

Many disembarked from trains wearing two face masks, latex gloves and protective coveralls.

For the city, the risk of a return of the disease is real, and its authorities do not want to take any risk.

Before leaving the station, each traveler is required to give personal information and to detail the places they have visited before, before their temperature is taken.

He must also present on his phone a QR code which acts as a pass and which certifies that he is “healthy”.

Otherwise, the traveler must undergo a screening test, an official in the Jiangan district of Wuhan told AFP.

Those who say they have recently traveled abroad – or are suspected of doing so – are sent to a separate triage area, where officials in full coveralls check their records.

“At first, we were more afraid and maybe we thought we were safer abroad,” said Han Li, who is assigned to manage the flow of people returning to Wuhan.

“But now we no longer have that impression. We may even be safer in China. ”

A screening center was set up in a now closed hotel which was used to house suspected cases of Covid-19.

AFP journalists who had recently arrived were informed that they were also due to undergo a test involving a throat sample.

The employees of several hotels normally welcoming foreign visitors explained to AFP that due to the pandemic, no foreigner was admitted to these establishments.

One hotel even claimed to strangers that they must have proof that they observed a fortnight of two weeks, even if they have not left China since the epidemic began in January .

“The controls are tighter now,” said a receptionist at AFP.

The measures taken in Wuhan are similar to those imposed elsewhere in China by local governments. Many provinces require people arriving abroad to observe quarantine at home or in dedicated centers.

However, the reopening is only partial. Residents will have to wait until April 8 before leaving Wuhan, when the city’s airports will also reopen.

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