On Wednesday, China ended the months-long lockdown in Wuhan, the city where the coronavirus outbreak first began.
The city and its 11 million people had been under a strict lockdown for over 10 weeks. On Jan. 23, China blocked the borders of Wuhan — not allowing anyone in or out — a couple of days prior to China's Lunar New Year, a holiday that typically prompts millions of people to travel, Live Science previously reported.
Hubei province, which includes the city of Wuhan, bore the brunt of the COVID-19 cases in China. The country reported around 82,700 total COVID-19 cases, and around 82% of those were from Hubei province, according to the Johns Hopkins dashboard.
Two weeks ago, China lifted lockdowns on most of the rest of Hubei province, following reports of zero new local COVID-19 infections for five days in a row, according to the Live Science report.
Wuhan has only reported three new coronavirus cases in the past three weeks and yesterday, China reported zero new deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since January, according to The New York Times.
The government lifted restrictions on travel from Wuhan just after midnight local time on Wednesday, according to a statement. People can now leave the city if they can show authorities that they have a green QR code — indicating that they are healthy — on a phone app.
Footage from local news outlets showed a rush of cars leaving Wuhan as soon as the restrictions lifted and China's national rail operator estimated that over 55,000 people would leave the city by train on Wednesday (April 8), according to the Times.
Though schools remain closed in Wuhan and some social distancing restrictions on people and businesses are still in place, around 94 percent of businesses across the city have restarted, public transport has resumed and people have begun to go outside once more, according to the Times.
Still, officials urged people to stay at home as much as possible. As most of China eases restrictions, and people start venturing out, the country could face a resurgence of the virus, experts said, according to CNN.
On Saturday (April 4), thousands of people — wearing face masks — packed together at the Huangshan mountain park in Anhui province. It was so crowded that by 8 a.m. Saturday morning, authorities announced the park had passed its 20,000 person capacity and wouldn't be taking any more visitors, according to CNN. Crowds similarly flocked to other parts of China, including Shanghai's Bund waterfront. Gathering in large groups could fuel another wave of outbreaks, and should be avoided, experts say.
Editor's Note: This article was updated on April 15 to correct the date of when the Wuhan lockdown was lifted.
Originally published on Live Science.
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Yasemin is a staff writer at Live Science, covering health, neuroscience and biology. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Science and the San Jose Mercury News. She has a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Connecticut and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.