“We have the right to enjoy”: thousands in Wuhan celebrate the New Year in the streets

Wuhan, China – A couple strolled along a completely crowded pedestrian street and could not believe: Wuhan, the city where the first case of COVID-19 and the one that experienced the first great confinement to stop the pandemic, celebrated the arrival of the New Year en masse, almost as if nothing had happened.

From early afternoon, floods of people crowded the city’s 11 million-strong subway to reach the Jianghan pedestrian street, the scene of an agglomeration that surprised residents themselves.

“I have not seen so many people together for years, it is very exciting to see Wuhan like this,” said the young Yao, who was walking along with his girlfriend along that shopping street, where there were queues to enter shops and restaurants.

Most were young people without fear of contagion -Wuhan added his last case of COVID-19 by local transmission in mid-May- and “wanting to make up for lost time,” added the smiling girl, Wu, dressed in rabbit ears false.

Crowd countdown

There are those who, like Leng, a university student, wanted to clarify that the already recovered Wuhan did not want to rub the images of the massive celebrations on the faces of those still suffering from the pandemic: “That we can go out today to celebrate does not mean that we do not sympathize with the rest.

Leng was one of thousands of citizens who flocked to central Jianghan Square to meet in front of the Hankou Building clock and take part in the countdown to end 2020.

“We have the right to enjoy,” added the young man, who despite the normality of the day is still aware of the havoc caused by COVID-19 or the strict confinement of the city, which began at the end of January and lasted for 11 weeks : “If you tell me at the end of February that today we would be like this, I would not believe it,” he said.

Five, four, three, two, one … the thousands of people gathered in the square counted expectantly and aloud every second before midnight arrived.

Then, the attendees congratulated each other and released thousands of balloons with different shapes and colors – most of them, hearts – in unison, to welcome 2021 and leave the fateful 2020 behind.

Tickets sold out at nightclubs

After the “chimes”, the Wuhan people hugged each other and took the necessary selfies to share on social networks. For some, it was the end of the night, but for others the revelry had just begun: some clubs were already sold out.

At the lavish club, Han kept coming and going non-stop in its huge rooms, where hundreds of people danced – some with masks, others without – to pounding electronic music until late at night.

In other bars, the gurgles of those who shouted in the karaokes were suffered, but “at least they give shelter to anyone who refuses to go home now,” said another young man laughing, who believes that this year’s celebrations were necessary.

“I know that this year they have been banned in many places. All our solidarity. But here many sacrifices have been made. The country has practically closed the borders. There is no choice but to accept that your movements are being tracked. It is supposed to avoid contagion. And here the confinement was … you couldn’t leave the city, “he said.

And he added that his impression is that “in other countries preventive measures against COVID-19 have not been applied as strictly as in China.”

Far is January of last year, when Wuhan recorded dozens of daily cases of a “mysterious pneumonia” that would end up causing 3,869 deaths in the city, according to official statistics.

To prevent COVID-19 from continuing to ravage, the authorities imposed on January 23 an unprecedented and strict confinement that lasted 11 weeks.

According to its inhabitants, it was the only possible measure to prevent COIVID-19 from continuing to wreak havoc, but they do not forget the confusion of the first days, when there was hardly any information available about the disease, food supply or sanitary material.

The management of the outbreak in its early stages has been the subject of controversy, and Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang himself acknowledged that his government took too long to reveal available information about the outbreak, because, according to him, they needed approval from higher authorities to make it public.

Apart from its strict quarantine, Wuhan managed to reverse the situation thanks to strong preventive measures, the arrival of health personnel from other Chinese provinces or the express construction of hospitals such as Leishenshan, which began receiving patients in February 2020.


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