Linda Lew – South China Morning Post March 21, 2020
Some in Wuhan, the Chinese city hit hardest by the coronavirus, celebrated with fireworks as authorities began removing checkpoints after reporting no new cases for a third day, while other places also eased restrictions.
The command centre handling the crisis ordered that the checkpoints – set up when the city was locked down in January to contain the spread of the virus – be cleared starting from Friday, as Wuhan prepares to return to work.
But routes out of the city would remain blocked, according to a notice issued by the command centre.
A video posted on social media by Dahe Daily on Saturday showed several checkpoints being taken down in Huangpi district, and fireworks being set off to celebrate the removal of one in Xinzhou district.
However, not everyone was cheering the development, with some of the city’s 11 million residents questioning how reliable the official data was.
Wen Ji, who lives in the city and runs photography classes online, confirmed that checkpoints within the city were being removed. But she doubted whether there really had been no new cases of Covid-19 in the past three days.
“I don’t believe this number – I think it’s safer to keep staying at home,” she said.
The crisis would be over when people could come and go freely from the city, according to Wen, who referred to a joke circulating online that “we know we’re healthy, they know we’re healthy … but no one is brave enough to let us leave”.
Andy Wang, a volunteer driver who has been ferrying medical workers to and from hospitals, said he was happy to see the checkpoints go and looked forward to being “honourably discharged” when public transport resumed and he was no longer needed.
“I can see Wuhan is almost at the point of victory, and life will probably go back to normal soon,” he said. “I hope all those who were fighting the epidemic can go home and reunite with their families.”