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China Relaxes Social Distancing Measures As Coronavirus Outbreak Slows In Country

New reports out of China reveal the country has begun loosening its two-month lockdown and relaxing social distancing measures as the coronavirus appears to be slowing down.

According to South China Morning Post, the city of Wuhan, considered ground zero for the pandemic, hasn't reported any new cases in several days, prompting authorities to clear checkpoints while elated citizens celebrated with fireworks.

On Sunday, Wuhan announced it would be loosening the lockdown that's been in effect since January.

This decision was in response to the fact that the city has now gone three days without reporting any new coronavirus cases.

As checkpoints in the city were removed, citizens reportedly set off celebratory fireworks, indicating their hope for an end to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The city is not entirely out of its lockdown phase, however, as routes in and out of Wuhan remain blocked.

On Saturday, China reported 46 new confirmed cases of the virus imported from overseas, but has reported no new domestic cases since Wednesday.

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Other areas in the country have begun relaxing control measures. The eastern province of Jiangxi, with a population of 45 million people, has declared all of its counties and cities low-risk zones and begun lifting restrictions on people and goods.

In the eastern city of Hangzhou, cinemas, libraries and museums are due to open again, and people will no longer have to undergo temperature measurements at hotels, subway stations and office buildings.

Although the country seems like it's steadily on the road to rocovery, some residents, particularly from Wuhan, doubt the numbers that are being released.

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In an interview with Morning Post, a local named Wen Ji confirmed that barriers are being lifted, but is wary of reports that there have been no new cases in the city.

“I don’t believe this number – I think it’s safer to keep staying at home,” she said.

However, others are optimistic about China's future, and are eagerly anticipating life returning to normal.

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“I can see Wuhan is almost at the point of victory, and life will probably go back to normal soon,” Andy Wang, a volunteer driver who ferries medical workers between hospitals, told Morning Post. “I hope all those who were fighting the epidemic can go home and reunite with their families.”

Dr. Gauden Galea, a WHO representative in China, said he believes good things are on the horizon for the country.

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"It is an epidemic that has been nipped as it was growing and stopped in its tracks," he told UN News. "This is very clear from the data that we have, as well as the observations that we can see in society in general."

"So that's a big lesson," he continued, "that the natural course of the outbreak does not need to be a very high peak that overwhelms health services."

Dr. Galea also said he thinks other countries should follow in China's footsteps to see the same positive results.

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"This lesson in containment, he explained, "therefore, is a lesson that other countries can learn from and adapt for their own circumstances."

Information about the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing and Diply is committed to providing the most recent data as it becomes available. Some of the information in this story may have changed since publication, and we encourage readers to use online resources from CDC and WHO to stay up to date on the latest information surrounding COVID-19.

h/t: South China Morning Post, UN News