China opens Wuhan as world locks down

WUHAN: China announced Tuesday an end to travel curbs at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, as governments around the world tightened lockdowns in a desperate effort to slow the spread of the deadly disease. Hubei, where the novel coronavirus emerged late last year, will allow healthy residents to leave the province from midnight, officials said, two months after they were ordered to stay indoors.
“We are celebrating today,” a female doctor surnamed Wu told media.
“Every day, we saw the number of seriously ill patients decreasing, the situation improving, people being discharged from the hospital. The doctors and nurses are becoming more and more relaxed as the days go by. I am super happy!” The relaxation of rules, which will not apply to the hardest-hit city of Wuhan until April 8, comes as Britain and New Zealand joined nations in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia in declaring countrywide shutdowns in a bid to staunch the flow of new infections.
Pressure is also growing on the International Olympic Committee to speed up its decision about the fate of the Tokyo Games, with the Japanese prime minister seeking a one-year postponement of the international sporting extravaganza.
Across the planet, the grim toll continued to mount, with close to 17,000 fatalities and almost 390,000 declared infections including more than 200,000 in Europe alone, according to media tally. But there was a glimmer of hope in Italy, the European ground zero of COVID-19, with officials saying cautiously that its punishing lockdown may be bearing fruit.–Agencieas