Wuhan bids farewell to 2020 without looking back
By Jesús Centeno
Wuhan, China, Dec 31 (efe-epa).- Life has returned to normal in Wuhan one year after the Chinese government informed the World Health Organization of mysterious cases of pneumonia in the city, whose residents now want to turn the page on one of their darkest periods.
In the final hours of 2020, a couple takes wedding photographs by the Yangtze River, dozens of people grab the ferry after clocking off for the day and a concert hall is packed with young people.
In the neighbourhood of Luxiang, home to university faculties such as the Science and Technology department, some 300 people cram into the Vox venue to watch local band Happy Wheel, who offer a blend of rock and electronic music. The majority of revellers are adolescents or university students.
Some wear face masks, others don’t.
“There are no more cases, there is no need,” says Xue, one of the concert-goers.
“But a lot of people wear it as a precaution because if there is one thing the virus taught us it’s that you can’t trust anything.
“In Wuhan, we don’t want to put our foot in it again.”
Xue says that a recent study by the country’s Center for Disease Control suggests 4.4% per cent of Wuhan’s population had coronavirus antibodies.
“Considering Wuhan has 11 million inhabitants, that means more than half a million were infected,” he adds.
“That’s 10 times higher than the official figures. You can’t trust anything,” he says.
HOMAGE TO LI WENLIANG
“Wuhan!,” the singer screams at the opening of the show, the crowd immediately energizes as people dance and jump.
There is an emotional moment when the screen on stage pays homage to Li Wenliang, the ophthalmologist who, almost exactly a year ago, sounded the alarm about the symptoms of the mysterious pneumonia and its similarities to SARS, which hit China in 2003.
Li was detained by police and accused of “spreading rumours.” He was forced to sign a letter admitting his “error.”
The doctor later caught the virus and died at the beginning of February, sparking a public outcry and protests in China.
“For the Wuhanese, especially the young people, Li is a symbol because he dared to sound the alarm when the authorities did not know how to react. We will always remember him.”
A HELLISH YEAR
Many people in Wuhan are saddened to recall the early days of the outbreak and the draconian lockdown that kept millions at home for 11 weeks.
The general consensus in the city seems to be that the lockdown was necessary to limit the spread of the virus, but no-one forgets the confusion of the first few days of the outbreak when there was a lack of food and medical resource stockpiles.