This is the moment scores of honking drivers flood a motorway in coronavirus epicentre Wuhan after a two-month lockdown ended sparking a mass exodus today.
In the next 48 hours alone, more than 100,000 people are expected to depart Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province in Central China, as travel restrictions are finally lifted after 76 days.
According to Chinese state media, 55,000 residents have already left via its three railway stations, while at least 10,000 boarded flights out of Tianhe airport.
As Wuhan’s Communist Party Chief Wang Zhonglin announced an end to lockdown measures which had been imposed since 23rd January, “thousands” of vehicles flooded out of the city via its toll roads and motorways.
Footage captured at midnight shows countless drivers queuing at toll stations and then repeatedly honking as they are permitted to enter the Wuhan’s Airport Expressway for the first time in over two months.
While the majority of those leaving the city of 11 million are returning to manufacturing jobs in the Pearl River Delta, including major hubs Shenzhen and Guangzhou, some are fleeing over fears of a second lockdown, reports said.
In local media reports, a Wuhan resident named only as Mr Chen was quoted as saying: “We need to leave quickly. You never know whether the policy will change tomorrow.
“There have been a few more infections recently, so everyone is in a rush to get out before there is another lockdown.”
Ms Li, another driver, said she had been queuing on the toll road an hour before midnight waiting for boom gates to be lifted.
She added: “There were several hundred cars waiting behind me. The motorway was very crowded.
“I decided to leave early because I’m worried about a sudden change in policy.”
Over 80 percent of China’s 3,337 coronavirus deaths were reported in Wuhan, where more than 50,000 people were infected.
China’s National Health Commission today announced 62 new COVID-19 cases, 59 of which were reportedly imported, bringing the total number for the infection category to 1,042.
One additional death was reported in Hubei Province, while Wuhan had recorded just two new cases in the past fortnight, officials said.
According to reports, all 75 points of entry are now open in Wuhan, but flights to Chinese capital Beijing have not resumed.
Municipalities in other parts of China are taking disease-prevention measures into their own hands amid growing fears over a secondary outbreak.
As Wuhan lifted its travel restrictions at midnight today, the city of Suifenhe, which is in north-eastern China’s Heilongjiang Province on the border with Russia, announced it was now on lockdown.
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