Masked pedestrians walk on an overpass in Wuhan, with LED screens on buildings displaying slogans like 'stay strong Wuhan.' Photo: Xinhua

The lockdown measures imposed in Hubei province in Central China will be lifted from Wednesday, according to a statement issued on the provincial website on Tuesday.

People who are in Hubei, except Wuhan, and hold green health QR codes will be allowed to leave the province. People in Wuhan have to pass nucleic acid tests before they are allowed to leave the city. If a Wuhan worker has to go to work in Shenzhen, he will be permitted only to travel from Wuhan directly to Shenzhen. His whole journey must be closely monitored by the government.

From April 8, the lockdown measures in Wuhan will be lifted. People with green health QR codes will be able to move freely after that.

If after the lockdown is lifted there is no second wave, that will give hope worldwide at a time when the EU and much of the US is in lockdown. If, however, the China lockdown lift is followed by a second wave of infections, then the efficacy of maintaining current shutdowns across the world is likely to be questioned.

The Hubei/Wuhan decision was announced after the Leading Group of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee for Novel Coronavirus Prevention and Control, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, met Monday and determined that the transmission of the coronavirus in Wuhan had basically been cut off – although a few individual cases still remained, with a potential risk of some local outbreaks.

The group in its meeting said the next battle would be the prevention of imported cases and avoidance of any rebound of local cases. He said local governments should push the resumption of operations and production in companies in an orderly fashion.

As the epidemic has become a pandemic, a strategy of preventing the import of the disease from abroad and avoiding a relapse at home should be taken to maintain the gains in the fight against the epidemic, the group said.

China will safeguard its “precious achievements” in the anti-epidemic battle, provide help and resources to other countries as possible, help foreign companies source anti-epidemic materials and ensure the quality of these products, the group’s statement said.

The group urged the cancellation of restrictions that obstruct the resumption of society’s normal operation. It called for the resumption of public transport and of transport connecting rural and urban areas. The operation of logistic parks, freight stations and express delivery points should be fully resumed, it said.

On January 23, the Wuhan government announced it was shutting down its transport system and forbade people from entering or leaving the city. Within two days, all cities in Hubei also locked down. About 5 million people managed to leave the province before the lockdown. 

Over the past two months, more than 50,000 infections were recorded in Wuhan and more than 2,500 people died in the city. Hubei province said it had recorded no new cases since March 18, except one case on Monday. 

Two weeks ago, netizens found that airline companies started allowing people to book tickets departing Hubei from late March.