| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

No social distancing, masks at Wuhan’s mass graduation ceremony

No social distancing or face masks we seen during  for a massive graduation ceremony in Wuhan. A huge red banner welcomed more than 11,000 students over a year after the city was battered by the first global outbreak of COVID-19.

COVID-19 first emerged in late 2019 in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province, sending the city of 11 million into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns.

Restrictions were not eased until April when the city started to re-open after 76 days closed off, although schools remained shut for longer.

The city held limited graduation ceremonies last year, with Wuhan University hosting a mostly-online event in June last year, with the students and teachers who did attend all in masks.

More than 2,200 students at Sunday’s ceremony were graduates who could not attend their graduation last year due to tight virus restrictions.

China has since largely contained the outbreak while keeping precautions high, including tight border controls, quarantines, mandatory online “health codes” and varying restrictions on domestic travel.

There were 20 new cases on Tuesday, including 18 imported from overseas and two in a local outbreak in southern Guangdong province.

There have been 4,636 deaths officially reported, the majority in Wuhan.

Quoting a line of ancient Chinese poetry, the banner offered students advice for the future: “The ocean is boundless for leaping fish.”

As life in Wuhan settles down over a year after the virus, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has scorched its way across the world killing millions and bringing economies to a standstill continues to spark speculation and tension.

With few clear answers, speculation has persisted since the beginning of the pandemic, spawning misinformation and conspiracy theories as well as sharp diplomatic tensions.

Bats were identified early on as the probable origin of COVID-19. But scientists think the virus would have passed from the winged mammals to another species before reaching humans.

The pangolin was singled out as a suspect because it is one of the wild animal species sold at the market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which was linked to most of the first known cases of coronavirus.