Staff members conduct disinfection on the subway train in Wuhan on Monday. Photo: Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu via Getty Images

Health officials in China said Tuesday they will soon allow transportation into and out of Hubei province, where the novel coronavirus was discovered.

Why it matters: The announcement, effective on April 8 for virus epicenter Wuhan and this Thursday elsewhere in the province, essentially ends the mass quarantine of residents who've been on lockdown since January.

  • Hubei has seen a fall in infections in recent days, culminating in the province reporting for the first time last Thursday no new cases since the outbreak came to prominence in December. Hubei reported one new infection Tuesday, in Wuhan.

The big picture: The announcement comes as governments around the world step up restrictions against COVID-19 — which has infected more than 384,000 people globally, including over 81,000 in China.

  • More than 1.5 billion people globally have been asked to stay home Monday, AP reports.

Of note: Hong Kong managed to keep case numbers down when the virus first gripped mainland China, but it's seen a resurgence in recent days linked to overseas travel.

  • More than 90% of new cases reported in the past two weeks have links to international travel, the South China Morning Post notes.
  • As cases rose to 356 Monday, the city's CEO Carrie Lam announced new measures — including the closure of its borders to all nonresidents for two weeks, the paper reported.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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