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April 9, 2020

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Happy reunions as Wuhan restrictions end

Seven-year-old Shang Yiran was reunited with her parents at Hongqiao airport yesterday after being separated for around two and half months due to the lockdown in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, the city hardest hit by the novel coronavirus.

She had gone there with her grandmother in late January for the Spring Festival holiday shortly before the central Chinese city went into lockdown, leaving her parents in Shanghai and unable to return home.

When Wuhan lifted travel restrictions yesterday, Shang and her grandmother took the first China Eastern Airlines flight to Shanghai.

“She missed us so much and asked to take the very first flight to Shanghai,” her mother, surnamed Yang, said. “She also needs to prepare to return to school in the city.”

Over 350 passengers were on China Eastern and China Southern flights from Wuhan to Shanghai yesterday.

China Southern’s CZ3823 took off from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 8:09am with 35 passengers and landed at Pudong at 9:17am.

China Eastern’s MU2507 took off at 10:25am and arrived at Hongqiao at 11:40am. The Shanghai-based carrier operated three flights from Wuhan to Shanghai and one return flight yesterday.

“I’m happy to return to work in Shanghai, because it means Wuhan has been gradually getting back on track,” said a passenger, surnamed Chen, on the first China Eastern flight.

Chen, a Wuhan native, is a salesman for a musical instrument company.

He had gone home for Spring Festival but was unable to return to work because of the lockdown.

“I took one of the first flights to Shanghai to return to work as soon as possible,” Chen said. “I’ve just spent a long vacation at home.”

Liu Hanbai, a researcher for a Beijing-based medical company, drove to Wuhan on March 3 to take part in research on a treatment for the coronavirus.

He was given a hero’s welcome by his colleagues with flowers at Hongqiao airport yesterday when he flew back to Shanghai.

“It was a surprise that so many colleagues in Shanghai came to pick me up,” Liu said.

He had previously worked at a Wuhan hospital for four years, which is why he volunteered to take part in the research program.

“Days in Wuhan were toilsome and I was excited to meet my colleagues in Shanghai,” Liu said.

All passengers had to receive temperature checks before boarding at Wuhan.

They also had to show their health QR codes with only those having a green code allowed on the plane.

Red indicates a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case. Yellow indicates a close contact. And green means the holder has had no contact with any case.

China Southern operated 48 flights to and from Wuhan yesterday.

Most of Wuhan’s outbound passengers were Hubei natives returning to work in other cities, while those inbound were mainly migrant workers from northeast and east China, according to the Guangzhou-based carrier.

Meanwhile, China Eastern operated 30 flights from Wuhan yesterday to 15 Chinese cities that included Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Guangzhou. Over 1,100 passengers were on these flights, according to the carrier.

Its flight MU2527 from Wuhan to Sanya City, on the tourist resort island province of Hainan, was its first flight departing from Wuhan. It had 46 passengers onboard.

China Eastern’s Wuhan branch said that all its 27 passenger aircrafts had been fully disinfected and air-conditioning filters were replaced.

Pilot training programs began in March in preparation for the resumption of flights. Its pilots completed 346 takeoffs and landings at Wuhan during training.

All crew members were ordered to wear protective gear. And passengers from Wuhan were asked to sit apart.

China Eastern plans to operate around 286 weekly flights from Wuhan, mainly to Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Ningbo and Wenzhou.

After May 2, the frequency of flights to and from Wuhan will be further enhanced, according to the airline.


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