China's Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus (later named SARS-COV-2) likely originated via an infected animal sold at a wet market, is emerging from a nearly three-month lockdown.

But another city named Suifenhe, located along China’s eastern border with Russia may be facing the beginning of lockdown after 25 new cases of COVID-19 were reported by provincial health officials Tuesday. The new cases in Suifenhe may have been caused by people entering China at a border checkpoint.

The capital city Beijing is still under a lockdown described as “stringent” by BBC News. On Monday, 31 new cases were reported, prompting city authorities to announce that people entering the city will face a quarantine and undergo a health check.

Millions of Wuhan residents are starting to feel a renewed sense of freedom as the 76-day lockdown ended Wednesday. One resident, Tong Zhengkun, told the Associated Press (AP), “Being indoors for so long drove me crazy”.  

The AP reported that there were long lines at the airport as well as bus and train stations as many of the city’s 11 million people returned to their jobs and homes. Travelers were being tracked, however, with a mandatory smartphone app powered by a mix of data-tracking and government surveillance.

Statistics from China are best viewed with some skepticism. The government is under some international scrutiny about its response to the outbreak, whether it is underreporting its figures or its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO). According to Reuters, more than 50,000 people in Wuhan caught the virus and over 2,500 died.

By all accounts the Wuhan lockdown was unprecedented. Beginning on Jan. 23, the ruling Chinese Communist Party imposed a quarantine lockdown on tens of millions of people in Wuhan and then the rest of Hubei province. It was the first place where restrictions described as draconian were enforced, closing most businesses and all travel in and out of the area.

The Communist government is now claiming success in subduing the virus dismissing the fact that the pathogen spread from Wuhan to across the rest of China and the world.

According to the Johns Hopkins coronavirus tracking website, close to 1.5 million people around the world have contracted the COVID-19 and the death count is approaching 90,000. There will be plenty of opportunities to assess blame and credit after all the lockdowns and quarantines have ended.

Most people just want their lives to return to normal like a 21-year-old man allowed to leave Wuhan and return to his restaurant job in Shanghai. The man with the surname of Yao said, "Wuhan has lost a lot in this epidemic, and Wuhan people have paid a big price. Now that the lockdown has been lifted, I think we're all pretty happy."

It remains to be seen what will happen in Suifenhe.

There was a steady stream of cars headed out of Wuhan as travel restrictions were eased There was a steady stream of cars headed out of Wuhan as travel restrictions were eased Photo: AFP / STR