23 January 2020 – China locks down the city of Wuhan and its 9 million people, in a belated but ultimately successful effort to control the city’s COVID-19 epidemic.
The central government of China imposed a lockdown in an effort to quarantine the center of an outbreak of COVID-19; this action was commonly referred to as the Wuhan lockdown. WHO, although stating that it was beyond its own guidelines, commended the move, calling it “unprecedented in public health history”.
The lockdown in Wuhan set the precedent for similar measures in other Chinese cities. Within hours of the Wuhan lockdown, travel restrictions were also imposed on the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou, and were eventually imposed on all 15 other cities in Hubei, affecting a total of about 57 million people. On 2 February 2020, Wenzhou, Zhejiang, implemented a seven-day lockdown in which only one person per household was allowed to exit once each two days, and most of the highway exits were closed. On 13 March 2020, Huangshi and Qianjian became the first Hubei cities to remove strict travel restrictions within part or all of their administrative confines. On 8 April 2020, the Wuhan lockdown officially ended. The lockdown, combined with other public health measures in early 2020, succeeded in suppressing virus transmission and averted a more widespread outbreak in China.
Some Western observers, such as Amnesty International, were initially skeptical of the lockdown; however, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread to other countries and territories, similar measures were enacted around the globe.