Deserted streets, no private vehicles on the roads and public transport virtually absent -- all these tell the grim story of Chinese city of Wuhan, the ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a student who recently returned from the neighbouring country.
Ashish Kurme, an MBBS student studying at a university near Wuhan, said the first case of the novel coronavirus was detected on December 8, 2019, but he came to know about the outbreak only in the first week of January.
Kurme, a native of adjoining Latur district, was among the Indians evacuated from the Chinese city in the aftermath of the deadly disease's outbreak.
He said initially, there was no restriction on movement on people in the city, which was later placed under lockdown as the Covid-19 cases started mounting.
"Examinations of the university were conducted from December 27, 2019 to January 3, 2020. The first patient of the virus was detected on December 8, but we did not know about this case till the January first week," Kurme said while talking to Marathi news channel ABP Majha on Thursday night.
"Videos showing dead bodies lying on the roads in Wuhan were fake. I came to know about these videos after coming back to India," said Kurme, who is in his early 20s.
He said life in the vibrant city, the capital of Hubei province, slowly started to change.
"The process to monitor daily body temperature was on since the first week of January. We were moving freely and I had been to markets and friends' houses till January 23. But this day a lockdown was announced and our movement was hampered.
"We were made to remain in our residences and our teachers took care of our needs. Chinese citizens were not allowed to enter our premises till we were there," Kurme said.
As the situation worsened, the MBBS student started thinking of returning home.
"We were provided masks and our health was more closely observed after the lockdown. We decided to move back to India, but we came to know that the Wuhan airport was also closed.
"The Indian embassy in Beijing made arrangements and a bus came to our university and took us to the airport," he said.
"Government officials and police teams were present on the roads and they were taking care of everyone moving. A set of 30 questions was asked to us and after that I was sent towards my aircraft.
"I was quarantined for 14 days when I landed in India and was sent back home (in Latur) after the observation period ended," he said.
"The mortality rate of the coronavirus is very low as compared to the SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) which hit China more than 15 years ago," Kurme said.
Post-lockdown, streets of Wuhan were deserted, private vehicles were banned from the roads and the public transport also came to a halt, he said.
The death toll in the novel coronavirus outbreak in China has reached 3,042.