First pool parties, now international vacations.
The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected, is one of many in the country that have been gradually returning to an almost pre-pandemic sense of normality. Wuhan’s water parks and night markets are packed elbow to elbow, buzzing as they did in the days before the authoritarian government imposed sweeping lockdowns.
The next step is resuming international flights. The first is a Sept. 16 T’way Airlines flight between Wuhan and Seoul, the South Korean capital, China’s state-run media reported on Thursday.
Several carriers are applying for permission to restart direct flights between Wuhan and cities such as Bangkok; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Hanoi, Vietnam; Singapore; and Tokyo, according to a report in People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party.
Thousands of infected travelers who left Wuhan in January, ahead of the Lunar New Year, helped to unwittingly spread the virus across the country and beyond. The industrial hub of 11 million people was placed under lockdown later that month.
Wuhan began to cautiously reopen in April, and other cities have since followed suit, even as experts warn that China may face a Covid-19 resurgence as the weather cools and people spend more time indoors. Earlier this month, Beijing restarted direct flights to Canada, Greece, Thailand and other countries.
Eerily empty this spring, Wuhan’s Tianhe International Airport processed up to 60,000 travelers a day last month, a record since the end of the lockdown, according to state media reports. And by late August, the airport had recovered 90 percent of its pre-pandemic volume of domestic flights compared with the same period last year.
On Thursday, China reported zero domestically transmitted cases for the 25th consecutive day. The Chinese mainland has had a total of almost 93,000 cases and 4,634 deaths, according to a New York Times database.