©Health & Fitness Journal. People walk out of a subway station during the morning rush hour in Wuchang district after the government gradually eased restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, 9 December 2022. REUTERS/Martin Pollard 2/4
By Martin Quin Pollard
WUHAN (Health & Fitness Journal) – In the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak nearly three years ago and where thousands have died, residents this week cautiously welcomed an easing of lockdown measures by authorities.
In the city center, few people stayed in shops and restaurants and the subway was only partially filled as many residents continued to fear a possible resurgence of infections.
The teeming metropolis bore the brunt of the pandemic in its early stages in early 2020, when authorities ordered the entire city of 11 million people to be locked down in a military lockdown for more than two months — a traumatic chapter not forgotten by some.
“We know that the country is reopening, but we ourselves have not given up our vigilance,” said a Wuhan corner shopkeeper. “We are taking precautions and protecting ourselves because it (the virus) is spreading quickly.”
Outside a fever clinic attached to Wuhan Central Hospital, where Li Wenliang, a whistleblower, worked and first drew attention to the mysterious virus before succumbing to it himself, a line of more than 100 people sought treatment, which was provided by assembled by workers in white hazmat suits.
Two pharmacies in Wuhan visited by Health & Fitness Journal sold out of fever medication a day ago, while customers asked in vain for vitamin C or cough medicine when supplies ran out.
“This has never happened before, not even at the beginning of the outbreak in 2020,” said a Wuhan pharmacist surnamed Liu.
Health authorities in Wuhan on Thursday reported 229 new COVID cases, while health authorities in Beijing reported more than 16,000 cases nationwide on the same day.
Beijing was also quiet as some companies hesitated to drop COVID curbs. Ongoing fears over the coronavirus are likely to hamper a speedy return to health in the world’s second largest economy. [L8N32Z09X]
“There’s always this tendency for Wuhaners to resort to hoarding, whether it’s medicine or groceries. It’s fair to say that it’s because we were traumatized from the first wave, and that experience stays with us,” said Li, a 31-year-old. year-old manager working for a real estate company in Wuhan.
“LIKE A NIGHTMARE”
Last year, Wuhan, which straddles the Yangtze River in central China, has been under partial lockdown at times as some regional logistics hubs, such as Dongxi Hu District, reported cases throughout the year.
In November, as frustration with the zero-COVID policy mounted, some Wuhan residents like Sam Yuen, a teacher, joined protests calling for an end to lockdowns, along with thousands of others in cities across China.
“It was a nightmare… it felt like we were being treated like animals,” Yuen told Health & Fitness Journal.
He described how residential areas across the city were cordoned off with sheet metal until the fall, as a throwback to the days of the first outbreak.
“People used to say that young people didn’t resist and fight for their rights, but it was good to resist like that. It showed wisdom and courage… When I saw the people standing there, I was very moved. It was one of the best moments of my life. In 30 years I have not felt such collective passion as this.”
Wang Wenjun, who lost an uncle during the 2020 lockdown, has scars yet to heal.
“All this time I felt numb. I don’t feel like I received any help at all,” she told Health & Fitness Journal
When people fell ill with a mysterious form of pneumonia in December 2019, with a number of cases linked to the Huanan fish market, authorities were criticized for being slow to respond and trying to cover up news of the infections.
The downtown market remained boarded up during a visit by a Health & Fitness Journal correspondent on Friday.
Cases rose in Wuhan, and authorities later scrambled to build makeshift hospitals at gyms, sports stadiums and convention centers amid the citywide lockdown.
City authorities put the official death toll in April 2020 at 3,869. However, some felt the actual numbers were much higher as reports surfaced of people collecting the ashes of relatives and urns piling up at funeral homes.
“How can we have a good life under their (state) control, their guidance?” Wang said.
Others, however, welcomed the chance for a fresh start.
“I was excited to hear the news,” said Chen, 32, a university lecturer. “We can finally, finally move on.”