China allows non-residents of Wuhan to leave coronavirus centre

A worker waits with disinfectant outside a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China, on Feb 22, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese authorities on Monday (Feb 24) slightly relaxed their month-long quarantine measures in Wuhan, allowing some people to leave the epicentre of the country's virus epidemic under certain conditions.

The city of 11 million has been under lockdown since Jan 23 after authorities shut down transport links into and out of the city in an effort to contain the new coronavirus outbreak.

Non-residents may leave the central city of 11 million people if they show no symptoms of the new coronavirus and have never had contact with patients, the city said in a statement.

People with special reasons to leave the city including those who need treatment for other medical conditions and those doing epidemic prevention work may also leave Wuhan, the statement said.

Departures must be staggered and people must apply for permission from local authorities before leaving.

Cars leaving the city must not carry more than two people, including the driver, at a time, the city said.

Once travellers have reached their destinations outside of Wuhan, they must report themselves to local authorities and monitor their health for 14 days, the city said.

The epidemic's spread has slowed down in China outside of Hubei province, which Wuhan is the capital of, with multiple provinces have reported zero new infections for several days in a row.

Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have originated late last year, continues to account for the majority of new cases and deaths in the country.

China's death toll from the coronavirus rose to 2,592 on Monday, after the National Health Commission reported 150 more fatalities, all but one in the epicentre of Hubei province. Monday's death toll was a jump on the 97 deaths reported on Sunday.

The commission also confirmed a total of 409 new cases in China, with all but 11 in Hubei. Multiple provinces have reported zero new infections for several days in a row, even as the situation continues to worsen within Hubei and outside of China. Only one death was reported outside of Hubei on Monday, in Hainan province, where the official Xinhua news agency said a 55-year-old doctor had died.

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