Exactly a year after Wuhan added the word “lockdown” to global conversation, it is celebrating the anniversary on Saturday with a mixture of pride in recovery from the coronavirus and caution about a possible relapse.
A year ago, on Saturday, Wuhan shocked the world by imprisoning 11 million fearful citizens at home and initiating a traumatic 76-day lockdown that underscored the growing threat from a then mysterious pathogen from the city.
One after the other, neighboring metropolises in the hard-hit Hubei province quickly followed, as did cities and entire countries around the world when Covid-19 went global.
But as the world‘s pandemic battles continue, Wuhan today is nothing more than the locked down ghost town from a year ago, where traffic is buzzing, sidewalks are busy, and citizens are packing public transport and parks.
But fear lurks beneath the surface as localized clusters multiply across China, reviving memories of the city’s ordeal.
They stay alive for Huang Genben, 76, who battled Covid-19 in hospital for 67 days in the past year, spitting up blood and expecting death.
“When I closed my eyes at night, I didn’t know if I would open them again,” Huang told AFP.
Like many Chinese, he is proud of the “great efforts” made by the Beijing government and citizens to contain the pandemic, such as the hard-hit Wuhan.
The virus has killed at least two million people worldwide and is still spreading. In China, however, fewer than 5,000 deaths have been reported by authorities, with the vast majority occurring in Wuhan at the start of the pandemic.
And the city’s laid-back scenes – senior dancers spinning in parks and overcrowded bars selling Wuhan Stay Strong craft beer – contrast with the rolling lockdowns, rising death rates, and overwhelmed hospitals overseas.
“I feel pain”
“We can see from the results that the government’s policies were correct and the cooperation of (Wuhan) citizens was correct. I am in pain when I see the epidemic around the world,” said Huang.
The government has released an official propaganda narrative with Wuhan that focuses on a “heroic” Chinese response and recovery.
However, no lockdown memorial services planned by Beijing on Saturday are known to be fading into the background in the early days of the pandemic on allegations that it covered up or mistreated the outbreak so it could spread.
It is widely believed that the virus spread to the outside world from a humid market in Wuhan where exotic animals were sold for food.
Otherwise, China has published little information about its origin, which leads to more transparency in the West.
The lockdown anniversary will be held by World Health Organization experts just days after completing a two-week quarantine in Wuhan, before a planned investigation into the origin of the coronavirus is initiated.
The WHO said Friday it was too early to draw any conclusions about whether the pandemic started in China.
“All the hypotheses are on the table,” said WHO emergency director Michael Ryan.
While other nations, particularly the United States, have wavered over their coronavirus response, Wuhan closed completely and plunged its economy into recession.
State media reports – and activity on the streets – bear witness to a formidable recovery, but some say it remains incomplete and many residents are holding back from a virus resurgence.
Xu Jiajun, a 58-year-old street vendor selling local food, drink and other items, said times are still difficult.
“The situation is not good. I don’t have a stable income like before. Things have changed,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)