On Wednesday, April 8, people were permitted to leave the city of Wuhan (Hubei province) for the first time since a lockdown was imposed on Monday, January 27, as authorities begin to ease local restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Passenger trains began to depart the city from 00:50 (local time) and highways were also opened to outbound traffic. The restrictions were eased following a reduction in the number of daily reported cases, with reports suggesting that Wuhan had only two new confirmed cases in the past two weeks. Residents are still being encouraged to remain within their neighborhoods and avoid travel outside of the city unless it is necessary.
While travel restrictions have eased in Wuhan, strict control measures continue nationwide. Authorities have stated that measures have been introduced to restrict non-essential border crossing while those border ports and crossings which were previously closed will continue to be inaccessible until further notice. Border patrols have also been increased. The development comes after 20 of 38 new cases of the virus in the country were detected among Chinese nationals who had returned on Sunday, April 5, from Russia via Heilongjiang province. Foreign nationals, including those with valid residence permits, remain prohibited from entering the country as of April 8, with some exemptions such as diplomats and those on deployments deemed essential by the government. Authorities have also announced stronger controls on the country's land borders in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, April 7, there were 83,071 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 3340 fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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