Wuhan (Chine) (AFP)
A year ago, China announced the first death from a new virus in Wuhan – 12 months later, Covid-19 killed 1.9 million in a relentless march across the world.
But in the city of 11 million people in central China, where the first known outbreak began, the virus has been extinguished.
On Monday morning, the anniversary was not marked in Wuhan – commuters roamed freely to work as parks and waterfront walks buzzed with walkers in a city determined to ban its label as zero coronavirus.
In a sparse report from Jan.11, 2020, China confirmed its first death from an unknown virus – a 61-year-old man who was a regular at the now notorious Wuhan wet market, linked to many early cases.
The world would soon become gravely familiar with the disease that killed it as Covid-19.
Little is still known about the first victim, including his name, while the market where the first clusters of reported cases were traced remained closed, surrounded by boarding.
Independent experts have not yet had access to the market or retrace in detail these first days of the virus in Wuhan.
The city has now bounced back and is proud of its revival.
“Wuhan is the safest city in China right now, even in the whole world,” Xiong Liansheng, 66, told AFP on Monday as dozens of couples danced in a busy park in the morning sun, some wearing masks.
Commuters flocked to work and others strolled along the river – a stark contrast to countries still under tight restrictions and restrictions.
“The people of Wuhan are very aware of epidemic prevention and control – even my two-year-old grandson will wear a mask when going out,” Xiong said.
China has faced criticism at home and abroad for its initial handling of the virus, including attempts to silence whistleblowers and not reporting cases for days in early January.
Two weeks after confirming the first death, Wuhan and the surrounding province were taken under lock and key.
Transport links have been cut and schools closed in an attempt to contain the cluster.
There are also growing fears that the travel plans of hundreds of millions of people for the Lunar New Year next month may be ruined as virus controls tighten.
But that’s a fraction of daily infections in the United States, Britain, and many European countries.
China’s official death toll stands at 4,634 deaths from Covid-19.
© 2021 AFP