Chinese authorities announced Tuesday they would end a two-month lockdown of most of virus-hit Hubei province at midnight.
People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, the provincial government said. The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8.
China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting Jan. 23 in a surprise middle-of-the-night announcement and expanded it to most of the province in succeeding days. Train service and flights were cancelled and checkpoints set up on roads into the central province.
The drastic steps came as a new coronavirus began spreading to the rest of China and overseas during the Lunar New Year holiday, when many Chinese travel.
The virus raged for weeks in Wuhan, the provincial capital, and surrounding cities. Hospitals overflowed, and temporary ones were hastily set up to try to isolate the growing number of infected patients.
The outbreak gradually was brought under control, and Hubei has seen almost no new infections for more than a week.
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