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April 9, 2020

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First high-speed train from Wuhan arrives at Hongqiao

The first high-speed train carrying passengers from Wuhan to Shanghai departed yesterday morning as the novel coronavirus epidemic-wracked city in Hubei Province ended its 76-day lockdown.

Zhou Kaifu was one of the 681 people who took the train. The 42-year-old Wuhan native, who works for China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group Co Ltd, headquartered in Wuhan, was sent by his company to take up a job in Shanghai as cities across China resume business and production.

Yesterday was also the first day that he registered himself at the company’s Shanghai branch in Fengxian District.

Zhou arrived at Wuhan railway station at around 7:20am, 40 minutes before the train’s departure time.

The station was not as crowded as before the coronavirus outbreak. On a normal day previously, Wuhan’s three train stations would handle between 300,000 and 400,000 passengers, but yesterday only about 50,000 were expected.

After the G1719 train pulled into Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, Zhou and other passengers were seen wheeling their luggage out. Most wore masks and some were dressed in protective clothing and goggles.

Recalling his 78 days at home, Zhou told Shanghai Daily that at the beginning, he felt alarmed by the rising number of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan.

“All I could do was taking measures to protect myself from the virus and following the government’s guidelines,” he said. “Later the situation got better and I had more confidence in our success to defeat the virus. At last, I looked forward to my new job in Shanghai.”

In the same carriage as Zhou, a man surnamed Wang, wore a full set of protective clothing. Wang was traveling to his residence in Baoshan District ahead of returning to work.

Wang, who is responsible for finances at a local wedding photography company, hails from neighboring Anhui Province and is married to a woman from Wuhan. He arrived in Wuhan on January 22, one day before the lockdown, to celebrate Chinese New Year with his wife.

Like many others, the lockdown forced Wang to change his travel and work schedule.

“My company resumed business this month. The epidemic had an adverse impact on the service industry,” he said.

On Monday, he did a nucleic acid test for coronavirus infection and got a negative result, which he believed would be useful on his return to Shanghai. Along with the green health QR code required for boarding the train in Wuhan, Wang also applied in Shanghai for his “Sui Shen Ma,” a QR code to record residents’ health condition and whereabouts on a real-name online platform.

A young lady, surnamed Hu, wearing two masks, was also returning to Shanghai for work.

“I’ve contacted the community where I live in Shanghai and decided to have home quarantine for 14 days,” she said.

Every passenger leaving the railway station in Shanghai has to undergo infrared temperature screening three times, said Chen Chang’an, a doctor working at the station.

Temperature rise

“If their temperature is higher than 37.3 degrees Celsius, we require them to take temperature measurements three more times,” he said.

“Some are nervous or take a lot of luggage, which may trigger a temperature rise,” he said. “We ask them to rest for a couple of minutes, or even an hour, before measuring their temperature again.

“If their temperature is still abnormal, we call 120 and transfer them to a designated hospital for further testing. The aim is to avoid missing any coronavirus case.”

Chen, a doctor with the anesthesiology department at Shanghai Huatai Hospital, has been working at the station since February 10. He has not returned home since that day for fear of infecting others.

“I miss my family very much, but it is my duty to safeguard the station, as this is the ‘gate’ to Shanghai,” he said.

“I am not scared of passengers from Wuhan because I am confident in our nation’s prevention and control measures.”

Seventeen trains left Wuhan for Shanghai yesterday as railway services resumed on the day the Hubei’s capital lifted its travel restrictions, China Railway Shanghai Group revealed.

About 2,300 tickets for these trains were sold, it said.

The trains leaving the three stations in Wuhan yesterday included 13 high-speed trains that would arrive in Shanghai the same day. Other trains will arrive today, the group said.

Meanwhile, Shanghai’s residential communities are gearing up to receive people from Wuhan as well.

The Jinxiu Jiangnan neighborhood in Hongqiao Town of Minhang District saw one man return from Wuhan yesterday, according to neighborhood Party secretary Chen Qinghua.

“The man was on a business trip to Wuhan before the Spring Festival and was stuck there due to the coronavirus,” Chen told Shanghai Daily.

“He contacted us on Tuesday afternoon immediately after he bought a ticket for the first train to Shanghai after the lockdown.”

Chen said the man had planned to quarantine himself at a designated hotel as his wife and child were at home.

But after learning that he didn’t have to be isolated because of his green health QR code, which proves he is not a coronavirus patient, a suspected case or a close contact of any patient, he headed to the community directly after getting off the train.

“We told him to register at the entrance of the residential compound, check temperature every day and contact us if he feels uncomfortable,” said Chen.


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