New Delhi 28.03.2020. Residents in China have been subject to strict restrictions on movement for several weeks, and for nearly two months in the Hubei province. Wuhan was the epicentre of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and was locked down entirely, with barriers that prevented movement in the city now being dismantled.
In Asia, several countries were quick to restrict movement for anyone holding a Hubei province passport, to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
Since February 1, Singapore and Hong Kong prevented the arrivals of passengers from Hubei province. Only last week Singapore reported the first two deaths from COVID-19, despite having confirmed cases nearly two months ago. Similarly, Hong Kong has reported just 8 deaths from the virus despite bordering mainland China.
Both Singapore and Hong Kong went against advice issued from the World Health Organization on February 3 that stated there would be no need for disruptive travel restrictions. They have fared relatively well in containing the outbreak of the pandemic by introducing specific travel restrictions to the hardest-hit area of Hubei.
However, with the last of the temporary Coronavirus hospitals now closed in Wuhan, and the majority of stores reopening, travel restrictions on residents are also set to be lifted on April 8.
Restrictions on movement in Hubei have already been lifted this week, as long as residents have a clean bill of health signed off and confirmed.Other countries around the world have introduced strict lockdowns and restrictions on movement in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. Nearly half of the U.S. is subjected to movement restrictions, and many countries in Europe are closed for new arrivals
Elsewhere, South Korea, which was also hard-hit by the spread of COVID-19, has brought the spread of the virus under control, reporting its lowest number of cases since February 29.
A second wave of the virus has been a concern, mostly through imported arrivals, and this week China and South Korea have seen new cases reported. However, travel restrictions on internal movement are still on track to be eased.
Wuhan is home to 11 million people and residents will still need a “Green Code” in order to travel. This health classification rates residents using color codes using the AliPay app, and has been criticised by some.
The lockdown in Wuhan began on January 23 and was the largest restriction on travel movements in history, until other lockdowns that came into force around the world trumped that number. In Italy, Lombardy placed 17 million residents into lockdown, and in recent days India has put its 1.3 billion residents into lockdown as well.
In Europe, countries are still pushing to control the spread to the virus but the numbers of deaths in Italy has declined in recent days, which is being met with cautious optimism that areas of Europe may be at the peak of the virus outbreak, similarly to where China was a month ago.
Residents in Wuhan are able to now travel within the city. Shops have reopened and cautious optimism remains that normality will be resumed in the near future.