Pakistani students stranded in Hubei province, China said on Wednesday that local authorities have started to ease restrictions on exercise and food supplies after the province’s coronavirus infections have seen a sharp decline in recent days. “The local government has announced that people in certain areas may use taxis in the province in certain areas,” Muhammad Shahab Shah, an engineering student at Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, told Arab News a phone call Wednesday . He added that some delivery services had also resumed operations in the province, but it could take until the end of April for the block to complete. A total of 1,094 Pakistani students have been stranded in Hubei province since the blockade was forced on January 23 to curb the spread of COVID19, the Federal Foreign Office said. The majority live in the city of Wuhan – the epicenter of the fatal outbreak of the coronavirus. When the number of coronavirus cases in China declined from several hundred on a day two weeks ago to 19 on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping first visited Wuhan on the same day to express his solidarity with doctors, volunteers, and residents.

The Chinese President’s visit to the city, which has around 11 million inhabitants and is still in strict quarantine, is seen as an early sign that the restrictions on movement in Hubei Province are gradually subsiding. New cases outside of China continue to grow rapidly, and countries such as South Korea, Italy and Iran are experiencing severe outbreaks. The virus has infected more than 115,800 people in more than 100 countries and killed over 4,200 people, most of them in mainland China. Pakistan has registered 20 confirmed cases of the virus since February 26, one of which has recovered. Pakistani students also praised the collaboration and the facilities they expanded during quarantine, including the delivery of free meals, gloves, disinfectants, and medical advice.

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“We thank the Chinese government for their support during this critical time,” Muhammad Sadiq, a Pakistani student in Hubei Province, told Arab News on Wednesday. A number of Pakistani students trapped in the province had previously passionately appealed to the government to be evacuated, but are now satisfied with the Chinese government’s efforts to protect them from the deadly virus.

“We were relieved to see that the number of deaths and new [coronavirus] cases was falling,” Tatheer Hussain, a medical student at Hubei University of Science and Technology, told Arab News. “But it is too early to declare victory [against the virus].”

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