Wuhan exodus sparks virus hope despite mounting death toll
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by Jing Xuan Teng
Thousands of relieved citizens streamed out of China’s Wuhan on Wednesday after authorities lifted months of lockdown at the coronavirus epicentre, offering some hope to the world despite record deaths in Europe and the United States.
China has come under fire for its handling of the coronavirus crisis that originated there late last year and President Donald Trump threatened to cut US funding to the World Health Organization over perceived bias towards Beijing.
From Wuhan, the coronavirus spread rapidly to infect nearly every country on Earth, killing more than 80,000, battering the global economy and forcing around half of humanity into some form of lockdown.
Its march across the planet has affected every level of society from workers to royals, with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson fighting the illness in intensive care.
But the joy of people finally free to leave — many of them queuing up to depart in hazmat suits — provided some cheer to a gloomy world, offering proof the virus would not last forever.
“You have no idea! I was already up around 4am. I felt so good. My kids are so excited. Mum is finally coming home,” said Hao Mei, a 39-year-old single mother rushing to nearby Enshi to see her young children for the first time in two months.
“I’ve been stuck for 77 days! I’ve been stuck for 77 days!” shouted one man, who arrived at the railway station for a train back to his home province of Hunan.
A robot whizzed through crowds of passengers at the station, spraying their feet with disinfectant and playing a recorded message reminding them to wear face masks. (AFP)