Some 57,000 students in Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first reported, are returning to school today for the first time since a strict 76-day lockdown in the city was lifted.
- Not all students are back in the classroom—just senior students preparing for the national college entrance exam. It is not known when junior and middle school students will return.
- The move is the latest sign that life in the hardest-hit Chinese city is returning to some semblance of normal life.
- Still, authorities appear to be taking precautions, as start times have been staggered, desks have been spaced out, class sizes are smaller and students have their temperature taken on their way in, according to AFP.
- Wuhan, the first major coronavirus cluster, lifted its stringent lockdown of 11 million people on April 8, 2020, after 76 days, meaning internal travel restrictions were eased and healthy residents could now leave the city, which is the capital of Hubei Province.
- Hubei lifted its lockdown of nearly 60 million people around two weeks earlier.
Coronavirus cases in Wuhan account for the vast majorityof the 84,000 reported cases in mainland China, with more than 50,000 cases to date in the city, out of 68,000 in Hubei Province. The novel coronavirus is thought to have been detected for the first time at a wet market in the city in December 2019, and after an initially slow response, prompted Chinese authorities to shut down major Lunar new year plans, shut down travel out of Hubei, and eventually order people to stay in their homes. The virus, declared a pandemic on March 11, 2020, by the World Health Organization, has since infected more than 3.6 million people worldwide, while nearly 260,000 people with COVID-19 have died.
While cases and deaths in China appear to have fallen significantly, Chinese health officials are on the alert for a potential second wave of the virus as asymptomatic and imported cases continue to crop up. Beijing has been accused by the U.S. of concealing the true scale of the epidemic, but Chinese authorities have denied a cover-up, and maintain that the country is “winning its war” against the virus.