China is relaxing its coronavirus lockdowns, but the rules are still more restrictive than US cities under quarantine
China eased coronavirus travel restrictions in Wuhan this week, ending a 76-day quarantine, with a drop in the country's new daily cases signaling the lockdowns have helped slow the spread of the virus. But life in Wuhan is hardly returning to normal as residents still need a government-issued QR code declaring them healthy enough to travel and face temperature checks before boarding public transit. The measures show a stark contrast to the US, where states have been wildly inconsistent in enacting and enforcing stay-at-home orders, with some even allowing large religious gatherings to continue. Experts warn that relaxing quarantines prematurely has already led to a resurgence of cases in some Asian countries, which could prompt new waves of lockdowns. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
On Wednesday, residents of Wuhan were allowed to leave the city for the first time in 76 days as Chinese officials eased coronavirus travel restrictions. Wuhan, where the bulk of China's nearly 83,000 cases have occurred, was put under strict lockdown in late January. Residents were unable to travel and most businesses and public transit closed, as the country scrambled to slow the spread of the virus. The measures appear to have helped: on March 19, China reported no new COVID-19 cases for the first time since the outbreak began (though some doubt has been raised about the accuracy of the numbers). But as restrictions lift, experts worry the area could see a second wave of coronavirus cases. Asymptomatic carriers who don't know they're infected could still spread the disease as well as international travelers bringing the virus back into the country. That means life is hardly returning to normal for Wuhan residents, with officials keeping many rules in place out of an abundance of caution. By comparison, the US response has been much slower, lacking clear and decisive action from the federal government, and states have been mostly on their own. The result has been wide variations in how quickly states have implemented stay-at-home orders as well as how aggressive they've been in enforcing them. In California, nearly 40 million residents have been ordered to stay home and avoid non-essential trips since March 20, with police even ticketing residents who violate social distancing rules. Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, after weeks of inaction, exempted religious gatherings from his state's order, which didn't go into effect until April 3. But Americans under the strictest state lockdowns are still able to move much more freely than residents of Wuhan can — even under the newly relaxed policy. Here's how the rules around travel differ in the two countries.Wuhan residents must use a coronavirus smartphone app that allows the government to track their health status and travel history to determine where they can go.
The software generates a color code: green (you're healthy), yellow (you've had contact with another infected person), or red (you're infected). Only those with a green code can travel.
In the US, some state authorities have begun checking for people fleeing hotspots like New York, but travel within states has been much less tightly controlled.
Some American technology companies have built software tools to help public health authorities track the virus, but the US hasn't implemented anything close to resembling China's government-mandated app.
Airline and train station employees have also been checking people's temperatures as they board public transportation to identify potential carriers of the disease.
Some "essential" businesses that remain open in the US during the pandemic have begun conducting temperature checks on their workers, though it's not clear how widespread the measure is for Americans.
While businesses have started to reopen in Wuhan, the city's schools remain closed, people are still sheltering at home, and the crisis is far from over.
In the US, the lack of a cohesive nationwide strategy has left some states lagging in their response to the virus, and experts warn the worst is still to come.
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A student at the University of Massachusetts Boston is confirmed to be the 8th person in the US to have the Wuhan coronavirus after a trip to China
A man in Boston tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from Wuhan, China, the Massachusetts...A man in Boston tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from Wuhan, China, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health said on Friday. In a letter to community members, the University of Massachusetts Boston confirmed that the person infected was a student at the school, adding that health officials believe the risk to other students is "low." The case marks the first in Massachusetts and the eighth confirmed case in the United States. At least 259 people have died as a result of the virus, and around 12,000 have been infected, primarily in China. The virus has been reported in at least 22 countries around the world. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. A University of Massachusetts student who recently traveled from China to Boston has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Friday to have the Wuhan coronavirus, marking the first case of the virus in Massachusetts and the eighth in the United States. According to a report from the Boston Herald, the University of Massachusetts in Boston confirmed February 1 that the individual who contracted the virus was a student at the school. "I want to let you know that a member of the UMass Boston community who recently returned from Wuhan, China has tested positive for the novel coronavirus," the university told community members in a letter sent Saturday, per the Herald. "We are working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to ensure all guidelines and protocols are diligently followed. These agencies will continue to monitor the treatment and health of the affected person." UMass Boston added that state and local officials told them that the "risk to members of our community is low," and that "business as usual" is to be expected at the university's campus. According to a Saturday press release from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), the man is in his 20s and resides in Boston. The MDPH said the Centers for Disease Control notified state and local agencies of the positive test result on Friday night. Per the MDPH, the Boston man had recently traveled to Wuhan, the city in China's Hubei province where the outbreak originated. The man sought medical attention soon after his return to the US, the release said, adding that he had been isolated since seeking medical help. His "few close contacts" are being watched for signs of the virus, the agency added. The man will stay in isolation until he is cleared by public health officials, according to the MDPH. "Our priority is not only to protect and inform the residents of Boston but also to help this man continue to recover. We are pleased that he is doing well," Boston Public Health Commission Executive Director Rita Nieves said in the press release. "Right now, we are not asking Boston residents to do anything differently. The risk to the general public remains low. And we continue to be confident we are in a good position to respond to this developing situation." As Business Insider previously reported, seven other cases of the virus have been reported throughout the US, in Arizona, California, and Washington. The disease, which has killed at least 259 and infected nearly 12,000, mainly in China, has spread to 22 countries around the globe, including Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the US, and Vietnam. President Trump on January 31 banned foreign nationals who visited China within the past two weeks from entering the US, though US citizens, their immediate families, and permanent residents are not included in the ban. US citizens who have traveled to China's Hubei province must undergo 14 days in isolation upon returning to the country. Read more: 9,000 Hong Kong hospital workers are threatening to strike amid coronavirus outbreak if the government doesn't close its border with mainland China Apple shuts down all stores and corporate offices in China amid the continued Wuhan coronavirus outbreak Scientists have published over 50 studies on Wuhan coronavirus in the last 3 weeks. They learned that 75,800 people in Wuhan could be infected. A medical-surveillance system that China implemented after SARS led officials to discover the novel coronavirus within 1 week — here's how it worksJoin the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.