Wuhan citizens try to recover normalcy in the wake of COVID-19 crisis

After months in lockdown, citizens of the city where COVID-19 originated share their stories, from a woman who lost her mother to an American family that chose to weather the storm in Wuhan.
9:33 | 04/16/20

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Transcript for Wuhan citizens try to recover normalcy in the wake of COVID-19 crisis
Tonight we return to Wuhan, China, the original epicenter of the covid-19 outbreak. Slowly restarting after a nearly three-month lockdown just as some say China may have stayed silent too long. The birth of a pandemic. Reporter: Wuhan, China, a trepidation city on the mend, finding its footing amidst deep scars left by the coronavirus. On the streets, a trickle of shoppers taking their cautious, first steps toward normalcy. On the trains face masks a norm. Full protective gear no longer rare. These the remnants of a pandemic that first ravaged this metropolis that 11 million people call home, changing so many lives forever. In this province, more than 3,000 people would pay the highest price. Now a fraction of the 8500 lives lost in New York City. Reporter: A 27-year-old who lost her mother too soon. A 19-year-old who found purpose in doing his small part. And an American who found a second home with his wife in Wuhan. The birthplace of their baby girl. I imagine it will take a while before things get back to what they were, if ever. Reporter: Tonight, a return to ground zero. The testimony of a city that became the first to live through the scourge of covid-19, and the 76 days of lockdown before it game to reemerge. It was last December in this market known for selling wild animals, the first major cluster of cases are reported. Scientists believe the virus could have been transmitted from bats to humans. The contagion quietly spreading. But in the early days, Chinese officials are slow to respond. When I fly to Wuhan on January 22nd, this usually busy airport empty. There's basically almost no one it's empty. Their fear at the time, locals heading out, widening the circle of infections. The government is slamming shut the Gates to the city. But the virus' tentacles already reaching America's shores where the first travel-related case is confirmed. Then on January 23rd, the beginning of an unprecedented lockdown in Wuhan. Leaving the airport, train stations and the streets nearly deserted. By the next day, more than 50 million people are barred from leaving hubei province. This could not have come at a busier time, on the eve of the Chinese new year, one of the country's biggest holidays. Just a mass number of people will be traveling in China and over the borders back and forth and flying to other countries. The spread now seemingly unstoppable. From east Asia and beyond. In less than a week, the number of countries and territories with confirmed cases balloons to 15. By the end of the month, the world health organization would declare a global health emergency. In Wuhan, the government building two new hospitals in a matter of days as shown in this time lapse on state media. As a foreign national, American max and his wife have a choice to make. There was like evacuation flights out of China. It was kind of too much risk. We thought we'd just kind of be exposing our baby. Reporter: They stay in Wuhan and hunker down. Max, a teacher, continuing to teach classes, but now online. Need to think about how to put them together. Reporter: For a local teenager, as the spread of the virus grew, so did his sense of duty. He's a driver, calls started coming in from doctors who needed help commuting. For him, it was a simple choice. For the doctors he was transporting, the virus, a threat in more ways than one. In early January, Chinese authorities reprimanded eight doctors who had sounded the alarm about the new coronavirus. One of them, 34 year old doctor, an opt that Moll gist. His death is confirmed on February 7th. Grief and anger over government censorship erupts on Chinese media, many demanding transparency. Many speculated that the hubei province was very interested in promoting new year's celebrations and there was a delay on that basis. There were others who say they weren't sufficiently vigilant. Reporter: But soon, quarantine enters full force. Authorities seen dragging a couple from their apartment after they reportedly refused to self-quarantine. Reporter: Another develops a cough and a chest scan reveals a lung infection. But even after testing positive for covid-19, there are no available hospital beds. On February 10th, a bed finally opens up at a local hospital, with her mother no longer able to walk, Nina takes her in on a wheelchair. This was the last time she saw her mother. For max, it wasn't his own situation that worried him most but his family back home in Colorado. Cases in the U.S. Were climbing. By mid March, huge institutions like Broadway had shut down. The very next day, president trump declared a national emergency. And by March 17th, coronavirus would be in every single state. My grandparents, I worry more about them just because, you know, they're elderly, so more at risk. It's kind of surreal to see that things have flipped. Reporter: At the end of March, Wuhan takes its very first steps toward emergence, a return of workers to a Honda factory. No one is allowed to enter or leave the city without special permission, but restrictions are finally relaxing, a tiny bit. We've left the neighborhood. There, you can see the bike barricade. It no longer has any power over us. It's a good feeling. Reporter: A welcome glimpse of normalcy, emerging from the once-desolate streets. 'S kind of weird leaving the neighborhood. There's still all these guards set up and stuff. And you have to scan a qr code to get out. Reporter: Part of how Wuhan is managing the spread is through extensive tracking and surveillance, as residents go almost anywhere, they scan a qr code that shows if you're healthy, infected or have come into contact with someone who is infected. Officials also use technology to check body temperatures. Police even wear helmets they claim can detect heat in a crowd. We don't really have the surveillance and commitment to surveillance that the Chinese have shown. And this is how they were able to get things under control. Reporter: Far from the epicenter, China now reporting a resmurns of new cases, along its remote, northern border with Russia, attributing it to travelers crossing over. Almost 100 days after the first reported death, this is Wuhan, the blossoming spring brought with it the sunshine. Those yew pick wittous face masks, a stark reminder of all the city has been through. Nina has since returned to work as a beautician, but she carries the memories of her mother with her. As life here resumes, a message from those who lived through it first for those of us waiting for the contagion to pass. Our thanks to Bob and the team.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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