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  • People walk at a commercial street in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 30, 2020.

    People walk at a commercial street in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 30, 2020. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 31 March 2020

The full lifting of the quarantine is expected to happen on 8 April, all being well.

Markets and small businesses are some of the few places that have opened in a Wuhan, as the city at the heart of the global coronavirus pandemic slowly returns to normal.

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Despite no official new infections being registered since 17 March, the city of 11 million continues to live with the fear an outbreak could resurface as authorities slowly ease the strict quarantine measures that have been in place for months.

“We just opened yesterday,” says the owner of a small food shop who got permission from local authorities to reopen.

Those who have not stopped working since the strict measures were rolled out are pharmacists, who cared for all kinds of patients mainly in a remote way.

“Many had nothing to do with COVID-19. They were sent to the hospital,” says Chen, a pharmacist from the Hankou neighborhood adding there were many occasions when they ran out of stock.

“Now there are more clients than before, I want to believe that we have passed the worst,” she says.

In Wuhan there have been at least 2,547 of the 3,304 officially registered coronavirus deaths in China.

The director of the Chinese National Health Commission Ma Xiaomei said on Sunday in Wuhan the time had come to restrict mobility “in a normal way” although prevention still remained “the highest priority.”

Although most stores and restaurants are still closed and only take-away orders are accepted, the Jiangan shopping district, in the heart of the city, is one of the few areas where shops have reopened.

Despite the fact that many people have started to venture out, many have yet to end their imposed isolation windows means the city is by not yet operating at full steam.

Buses and the underground have been reopened but can only be used by residents who can prove they are healthy or have a green light on a QR-based health code system by Alipay.

There are still neighborhoods that prohibit locals from leaving, but this is not the case for Yan and her daughter.

“Government controls are still very strict,” she adds, before smiling under her mask - it is mandatory to go outside with it on - adding she is “very happy” to finally step out onto the street again.

“It is better to avoid crowds, to protect yourself. There have been no cases in Wuhan for days, but there may be some suspected cases or asymptomatic infections,” she adds before waving goodbye.

China’s National Health Commission said on Monday that the number of “active” SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses in the country was 2,396, the first time since January that it has fallen below 2,500.

Health authorities said four people had died, all in Wuhan.

The capital of Hubei also has 597 of the 633 seriously ill patients.

According to the Commission, by last local midnight (4.00 pm GMT on Sunday) 31 new cases were diagnosed, 30 of which were imported.

The total number of infections in China since the start of the pandemic is 81,470. Of those 3,304 have died and 75,700 people have been discharged after recovering from the disease.

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