- Thousands of students and their parents attended a graduation ceremony at a stadium in Wuhan, China.
- The grads in the coronavirus pandemic’s first epicenter weren’t wearing masks or social distancing.
- This is because China has reported fewer than 20 cases a day across its 23 provinces.
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For several thousand students in Wuhan, China, it was as if COVID-19 never happened.
The students turned up en masse in robes and mortarboards for Central China Normal University’s graduation ceremony on Sunday.
Notably, the crowd of students was neither wearing masks nor social distancing, a marked contrast from intense COVID-19 lockdowns in Japan and the mask mandate that still stands in parts of Asia such as Singapore.
According to the local news outlet Hubei News, the ceremony was held at a stadium within the university’s campus and was attended by more than 11,000 students. The outlet wrote that more than 3,000 parents were given seats to watch their children graduate, bringing the total number of people in the stadium above 14,000.
Welcoming the graduating classes was a red banner that bore a line from an ancient Chinese poem: “The ocean is boundless for leaping fish.”
Students in the class of 2020 made posts on Weibo (the country’s version of Twitter) celebrating the event. One student with the ID Panghuhudewangwangya wrote: “I’m back at school, fulfilling the regrets of not being able to graduate last year.”
Another student wrote: “Thank you to my school for giving us, the class of 2020, a graduation ceremony.”
This mass graduation ceremony took place in a place that in early 2020 was the first global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus was first detected in the city in Hubei province in late 2019, and its 11 million residents were ultimately forced into a strict lockdown for 76 days.
In the months following the lockdown, Wuhan bounced back and began holding large-scale public events in August 2020, months before other affected countries made similar moves.
Chinese authorities say COVID-19 is more or less under control in the country. Only 21 coronavirus infections were recorded Tuesday, all of which were described as imported cases.
The country’s most recent restrictions came after two local cases were reported Monday in the southern province of Guangdong, which sparked strict travel restrictions, mass testing, and frenzied vaccination drives. In April, small-scale COVID-19 outbreaks in the southwestern Yunnan province were also met with aggressive mass-testing measures and immediate city-wide lockdowns for 72 hours.
China has managed to keep its locally transmitted community cases to a minimum by putting all travelers to the country under a strict “14+7”-day quarantine procedure, in which one must spend 14 days at a facility and a further week of self-quarantining at home.
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