Shanghai sees people from outside city return as virus numbers wane

A bus conductor shows a QR code for a passenger to scan before getting on a bus in Shanghai as part of COVID-19 precaution measures on Tuesday. (GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY)

While some people are leaving Shanghai due to the COVID-19 epidemic, others are doing the opposite and coming to the city.

Wei Meiping, 57, carrying a suitcase and two handbags, arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station on Monday morning.

Passing through a crowd of people departing from the metropolis, she took the subway heading toward the downtown area.

"I'm going home," she told China Daily. "It's been 75 days since I left."

Thanks to an easing epidemic situation, the city's subway lines 3, 6, 10 and 16, as well as 273 bus routes that cover the urban areas and provide access to the city's airports, railway stations, major hospitals and commercial districts, resumed operations on Sunday.

Restoration of domestic flights and an increase in train services are among the changes in recent days.

The city registered 58 confirmed locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 422 local asymptomatic cases on Monday.

Wei said she went to Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, on March 8 to look after her elder sister, who had been diagnosed with cancer and was to have surgery at the end of March.

Her niece originally planned to take care of her 60-year-old mother, but at that time her community in Shanghai's Pudong New Area had been locked down because of COVID-19.

Wei set off without extra daily necessities or enough clothing for a long stay "because I thought I would be back in a few days".

She followed Shanghai's epidemic-related information while caring for her sister and often faced a dilemma over the more than two months that she was gone.

"I have deep emotions for my sister and I feel the responsibility to look after her, but I also missed my own family so much," said Wei. After coming to Shanghai to work at the age of 17, this was the first time she had stayed in her hometown, Shaoxing, for such a long time.

"I was sad to see my sister getting weak after chemotherapy, but I was also upset that I couldn't go back to my own home," she added.

Last week, when she was told Shanghai's public transportation would resume, she decided to return.

Her brother-in-law, a doctor, has squeezed in time to look after her sister, who is in a stable condition after medical treatment, so Wei came back on Monday with a negative nucleic acid test result taken within 48 hours. Before her return, she had informed her neighborhood committee in Shanghai's Baoshan district.

"I'll clean the rooms as the windows were not closed when I left, with some clothes also hanging on the balcony," she said. Her husband, a security guard, has been working at the front line and her daughter has been living with her mother-in-law in Pudong since the epidemic hit the city.

Although there is no one at home, "returning to Shanghai to be with them makes me feel closer to them and more secure," she added.

Like Wei, a man surnamed Xue also returned home in Pudong from Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Monday by train. The 64-year-old went to Nanjing for business on Feb 27, and was then met with the difficulty of traveling back home as railway services were impacted by the resurgence of the epidemic in Shanghai.

"Another big problem for me was that there was no public transportation in Shanghai during the lockdown. I could arrive at the railway station in Puxi, west of the Huangpu River, but I wouldn't be able to get back home in Pudong, east of the river," he said.

Thanks to the resumption of the subway, the man, who declined to provide his full name, took metro Line 10 to Gangcheng Road Station where he transferred to Line 6 to go to Pudong.

He made video calls back home every day in April when Shanghai was hard hit by the epidemic, vowing to retire after returning to spend more time with his family.

With a normal health code and a negative nucleic acid test result, his compound committee had told him he would be able to get back home smoothly.

A metro employee told China Daily that quite a few people who'd arrived in Shanghai from other cities have taken the subway in the past few days.

Besides those like Wei and Xue who've returned home to Shanghai, a few passengers have even traveled to the city for medical treatment and for business.

A woman surnamed Shu took her father to Shanghai from Taizhou, Zhejiang, by train, because he urgently needed a chest examination, Shanghai Observer, a local news portal, reported on Sunday.

Shu told the news outlet that her father visited Shanghai every month to have the examination before the outbreak. Upon finding out hospitals in the city had resumed outpatient services, she bought train tickets.

"Even though we had to transfer in Hangzhou at least we were finally able to arrive in Shanghai," Shu was quoted as saying. "We found the metro had resumed after arriving at the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. We were concerned about whether we could take a taxi to hospital."

A man surnamed Lan also returned to Shanghai from Jiangxi province on Sunday, because his factory in Pudong will resume operation from June 1, the report in Shanghai Observer said.