Angry crowds rioted near the Chinese city of Wuhan after the region’s two-month coronavirus lockdown was lifted.
But residents were told they could not travel elsewhere in China as shocking footage emerged today.
The angry mob overtuned a police van on a bridge linking Wuhan, which is the capital of Hubei Province, and neighbouring Jiangxi.
Mail Online reports: “The violent scenes came despite a move by the authorities on Saturday to allow people into Wuhan from elsewhere in the country for the first time since coronavirus emerged in the city in late December last year.
“Hundreds of people were pictured arriving at the city’s railway station on Saturday but people cannot leave until April 8 and the vast majority of shops are still shut.
“The group were seen hurling themselves at ranks of officers who were lined up to block the bridge across the Yangtze River.
“Some used police riot shields as makeshift weapons and one man was seen kicking a police car’s window.
“According to Radio Free Asia, the clashes were sparked by the authorities’ refusal to allow people from Hubei to get into Jiangxi.
“People are said to have been heard chanting ‘Let’s go, Hubei!’ as they clash with police.
“The reopening of the city, where the epidemic first erupted in late December, marks a turning point in China’s fight against the virus.
“However, the contagion has since spread to over 200 countries, infecting more than 600,000 people and killing 27,674 so far.
“In China, more than 80,000 have been infected and there have been 3,295 reported deaths.
“Among those on the first high-speed trains allowed into Wuhan on Saturday morning was Guo Liangkai, a 19-year-old student whose one-month work stint in Shanghai stretched to three months due to the clamp down on movement,” the report said.
“Authorities took draconian measures to stop people from entering or leaving the industrial city of 11 million people in central China.
“Families were confined to their homes. Bus and taxi services were shut, and only essential stores were allowed to remain open.
“Wuhan accounts for about 60 percent of China’s coronavirus cases, but they have fallen sharply in recent weeks, a sign that the measures are working.
“The last confirmed locally transmitted case of the virus in Wuhan was on Monday.
“With the United States, Italy and Spain and other countries now battling soaring infections, China is focussing on the risk posed by imported cases – most of them Chinese returning home.
“Effective Saturday, China suspended the entry of foreign nationals with valid Chinese visas and residence permits.
“The city in Hubei province was placed under lockdown in January with roadblocks ring-fencing its outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life for its 11million inhabitants.
“But even with the decline in cases and loosening of restrictions, Wuhan authorities were taking few chances.
“Staff, some in full-body protective gear, and volunteers bustled around the railway station in the morning, setting out hand disinfectant and putting up signs reminding travellers they need a mobile-phone based health code to take public transport.”
A worker walked through one metro train carrying a signboard reading: “Wear a mask for the entire journey, people should not gather and when you disembark please scan the health code.”
Yuan Hai, 30, a passenger on a reopened metro line said: “Everyone is taking the right precautions. So, there shouldn’t be a problem.
“But you have to be careful.”
Meanwhile, China is “strongly pushing back on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s insistence on referring to the deadly novel coronavirus as the ‘Wuhan virus’ after the city in China where it was first detected”, the report added.
“Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Thursday that it was an effort to ‘stigmatise China and discredit China’s efforts in an attempt to divert attention and shift responsibilities.”
Geng told reporters at a daily briefing: “He has a very sinister motive.”
He also “defended China’s efforts at tackling the virus and denied it was seeking to place responsibility for the outbreak elsewhere”.
“China has been accused of trying to squelch information about the outbreak during its early stages, and some of its diplomats have openly suggested that the virus may have been brought to China from the United States.
“Pompeo’s call for the virus to be identified by name as the ‘Wuhan virus’ at a virtual meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 7 leading industrialised countries resulted in their opting against releasing a group statement.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization and others have cautioned against giving the virus a geographic name because of its global nature.
President Donald Trump has steered away from those terms as critics have said they foster discriminatory sentiments and behaviour against Asians and Asian Americans.