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China’s Wuhan comes back to life after two-month lockdown

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the global new coronavirus outbreak first began late last year, has eased travel restrictions after more than two months of lockdown.

The 11-million-population city in China’s Hubei province was placed under near total lockdown in January, with residents forbidden to leave and drastic restrictions implemented on daily life.

Bus and taxi services were also shut down while only essential stores were allowed to stay open.

The relaxing of the restrictive measures on Saturday saw cars in the streets and people commuting across the city, marking a key turning point in China’s fight against the deadly virus.

People are now allowed to enter Wuhan overland, but they have to show a green code on a mobile application to prove that they are healthy.

Authorities said exit restrictions, however, would remain in place until April 8 and Wuhan’s airports would also open for domestic flights on that date.

Reports indicated that despite the easing of restrictions in the city, temperatures of passengers were being monitored by medics dressed in full body protective gear and police kept a watchful eye on passers-by to prevent new outbreaks.

The novel coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease known as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan in December last year, incrementally infecting some 200 countries across the world.

More than 598,000 people worldwide have so far been infected with the virus and over 27,000 have died, according to a running count by worldometers.info.

Millions could die in low-income countries: Aid groups

International aid groups warned that millions could die in low-income or conflict-ridden countries if measures were not taken to protect people against the new coronavirus.

The aid groups sounded the alarm on the potentially devastating consequences of a severe outbreak in Syria, Yemen and many African countries, where healthcare systems are in tatters and hygiene conditions poor.

UN experts had earlier warned that three billion people around the world lacked access to running water and soap, which are the most basic weapons of protection against the virus.

The International Rescue Committee said in a statement that, “Refugees, families displaced from their homes, and those living in crisis will be hit the hardest by this outbreak.”

International charity Oxfam said close to 40 million people could lose their lives if urgent action was not taken, urging the richer governments to cancel the debt of low-income countries.

Turkey halts intercity trains, limits domestic flights

Also on Saturday, Turkey halted all intercity trains and limited domestic flights as part of the country’s measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, as the number of cases jumped by a third in a day to 5,698, with 92 dead.

In a notice detailing the travel restrictions, the Turkish Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside in and would only be allowed to leave with a doctor’s note, in the event of the death of a close family member or if they have no accommodation.

The rate of new infections in Turkey has outstripped many other countries in the last two weeks, with 2,069 more cases in the last 24 hours, the country’s health minister said on Friday.

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