Residents of China’s Wuhan yesterday said they were hopeful for the future and no longer afraid of COVID-19, three years after the city was locked down over what was then a mysterious virus.
Since Beijing ordered Wuhan sealed off in a bid to suffocate the outbreak in January 2020, COVID-19 has devastated the planet, killing millions and plunging the global economy into turmoil.
However, life is now back to normal for many across the globe and after almost three years of grueling lockdowns and mandatory mass testing, Beijing last month lifted its hardline “zero COVID-19” policy.
As China celebrated Lunar New Year this week, Wuhan was unrecognizable compared with the apocalyptic scenes that gripped the city of 11 million in early 2020.
Locals braved icy temperatures to pack busy markets and families — some not wearing masks — bought toys and threw stones along the Yangtze River.
Many told reporters that they were elated that life was returning to normal.
“The new year will of course be better,” Yan Dongju, a cleaner in her 60s, told reporters. “We are not afraid of the virus anymore.”
“Now that we have opened up, everyone is quite happy,” delivery driver Liang Feicheng said, wearing glasses and a black mask to keep warm.
“A lot of our worries and depression have all slowly been resolved,” he added. “People are going about their lives, coming together with family and friends, going out to play and travel and being happy.”
The January 2020 decision to lock down the city, announced in the middle of the night, took Wuhan’s residents by surprise as the world watched on with uncertainty.
For 76 days, Wuhan was cut off from the world, with residents holed up in their homes for fear of being infected as hospitals overflowed with patients.
However, the horrifying scenes which marked the world’s first COVID-19 lockdown are now a thing of the past.
Outside a shop where Agence France-Presse captured the scene of a man who lay dying in the street in January 2020 — in an image that would become a symbol of the world’s fight against COVID-19 — a sign for a new school on the second floor reads “House of Hope.”
However, in a cogent reminder of the fraught geopolitics that would emerge as the virus spread across the globe, Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market — once suspected of being the epicenter of the outbreak — remains closed.
The area around the once-bustling wet market was desolate when reporters visited yesterday, although a police vehicle kept watch.
China, relatively unscathed for years after its initial outbreaks thanks to draconian “zero COVID-19” measures, has faced its biggest-ever case surge in recent weeks.
About 80 percent of the population is believed to have contracted COVID-19 since health restrictions were lifted last month, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou (吳尊友) said.
Sitting in a lotus position, four men weave glittering beads through gold thread on an organza sheet, carefully constructing a wedding dress that would soon wow crowds at Paris Fashion Week. For once, the French couturier behind the design, Julien Fournie, is determined to put these craftsmen in the spotlight. His new collection, which showed in Paris on Tuesday, was entirely made with fabrics from Mumbai. He said that a sort of “design imperialism” means that French fashion houses often play down that their fabrics are made outside France. “The houses which don’t admit it are perhaps afraid of losing their clientele,” Fournie
A court in Thailand sentenced a 27-year-old political activist to 28 years in prison on Thursday for posting messages on Facebook that it said defamed the country’s monarchy, while two young women charged with the same offense continued a hunger strike after being hospitalized. The court in the northern province of Chiang Rai found that Mongkhon Thirakot contravened the lese majeste law in 14 of 27 posts for which he was arrested in August last year. The law covers the king, queen and heirs, and any regent. The lese majeste law carries a prison term of three to 15 years per incident for
A gunman killed 10 people and wounded 10 others at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club following a Lunar New Year celebration, setting off a manhunt for the suspect in the latest mass shooting tragedy in an American community. Captain Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that the wounded were taken to hospitals and their conditions range from stable to critical. He said the 10 people died at the scene in the city of Monterey Park. Meyer said people were “pouring out of the location screaming” when officers arrived at around 10:30 pm Saturday. He said officers then
INSTABILITY: The country has seen a 33 percent increase in land that cultivates poppies since the military took over the government in 2021, a UN report said The production of opium in Myanmar has flourished since the military’s seizure of power, with the cultivation of poppies up by one-third in the past year, as eradication efforts have dropped and the faltering economy has led more people toward the drug trade, a UN report released yesterday showed. Last year, the first full growing season since the military wrested control of the country from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021, saw a 33 percent increase in Myanmar’s cultivation area to 40,100 hectares, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said. “Economic, security and governance disruptions