Thousands flee Covid-hit Shanghai – as some walk 10 hours to train station

Shanghai is facing a mass exodus of people fleeing the Covid-hit city on foot as the government eased up restrictions after a strict six-week lockdown.

Crowds have been gathering outside Hongqiao Railway Station hoping to buy a ticket and get reunited with their families despite the government asking people only to leave if it's necessary.

The financial hub in east China was put in draconian lockdown in April, as videos emerged showing office workers being forced to quarantine in offices for a minimum of seven days and enforcers mistreating pets.

Shanghai Police issued a notice on Wednesday (May 18) informing people who needed to leave the city to apply for permits from local authorities.

Permits will be valid within six hours from the departure time residents specified.

Video shared on Chinese video platform Douyin shows long queues of people carrying luggage and backpacks leaving their building blocks as some get on private cars, or bikes to the train station.

The highway outside Hongqiao Railway Station sees lines stretching kilometres as people wait to hop on the train to other cities.

Some are seen wearing full protective gowns, face shields and gloves as they wait for their turns to buy tickets.

People who did not have private vehicles had to walk seven to 10 hours with their belongings to the station.

One Douyin user documented his "exodus" journey: "Guys the time has come and I am about to embark my journey to leave the city. Goodbye Shanghai and hello home!"

"Took me seven hours and here we are, Hongqiao Railway Station! I'm coming home," another said.

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Shanghai's railway authority said a total of 7,000 passengers left the city via Hongqiao Railway Station on Wednesday and most of those who left were university students.

Shanghai Police reported that six people had been arrested on Tuesday (May 17) for allegedly reselling train tickets, with one charging an extra 2,200 yuan (£262) for two train tickets.

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