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Wuhan prepares for happier Spring Festival

Updated: Feb 8, 2021 By LI HONGYANG in Beijing, ZHOU LIHUA,ZHOU LIHUA and LIU KUN in Wuhan China Daily Print
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Zhang Xiaobing, second right, enjoys a family gathering with his wife and children in Wuhan, Hubei province. Zhang worked as a volunteer transporting bodies during the pandemic in the city last year. Photo provided to CHINA DAILY

Provincial capital has recovered from tough times in 2020

Residents of Wuhan, Hubei province, are busy with their preparations for Lunar New Year, which is on Friday.

Crowds shop for salted meat and red paper-cut art at malls, while migrant workers heading home for family reunions fill the waiting room at the city's main railway station.

Last year, however, this provincial capital, which has a population of 11 million, experienced a vastly different Spring Festival as it grappled with the onset of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

To contain the outbreak, the central government enforced a lockdown in the city on Jan 23 last year, the day before Lunar New Year's Eve. Transportation was halted, people self-isolated at home and medical workers and volunteers worked to combat the virus.

One year later, the city's residents are moving on with their lives, but they are taking more care. In parks, seniors sing as children play with their parents, but everyone wears a mask.

Wan Xingrong, 65, who recovered from COVID-19 in March, said she is living a busy and happy life in retirement by taking photography classes online. However, she remains a little worried by the fact that she has had the disease.

She no longer buys food in her neighborhood supermarket, choosing instead to cycle to an open market.

"The market is in the fresh air and I get good exercise riding my bicycle," she said.

"Last year was a really hard one," said Wan, whose father died from the virus.

At 7 am on Jan 23 last year, Wan traveled by train from her home in Xiangyang, Hubei, to visit her 89-year-old father in Wuhan.

Three hours later, while she was still on the train, the lockdown took effect in the city. She could have got off the train during a stop in the middle of her journey, but decided not to.

"I promised my father I would spend Spring Festival with him, and I had to keep my word. If the virus was serious enough to close a city, I needed to be with him to stop him worrying," she said.

Wan's mother died in 2012 and her father lived alone. When she arrived at his home, she found he had symptoms similar to those of a cold, but he was later confirmed to have COVID-19.

To avoid her father becoming unduly concerned, Wan did not wear a face mask while she was with him.

Her father, who had underlying health conditions, died on Feb 5, one week after being told he had COVID-19.

Funeral home workers disinfected his body before sending it for cremation. For safety reasons, Wan was not allowed to accompany her father on his last journey.

She was also later found to have COVID-19 and was hospitalized.

"I was really depressed about everything, but had to try my best to survive. I never believed that I would die," she said.

She now performs baduanjin, a traditional Chinese exercise, in her yard every day. She also sings and takes the online photography classes to aid her recovery-mentally and physically.

For Spring Festival next week, she plans to take photos outdoors with her husband.

"I miss my son, who works in Shanghai, but considering the overall situation regarding the pandemic, I would rather he not return home this year or even next," she said.

In December, the Hubei government issued a guideline aimed at containing the virus during the Spring Festival holiday. The guideline targets a reduction in the flow of people and the number of group gatherings, along with strengthened personal and community prevention efforts.

Wan said: "We must follow professional advice to wear masks and wash our hands. Just doing whatever you want to do is selfish. After we get through these tough times, then we can have fun."

When the pandemic ends, Wan said she wants to travel to Tibet autonomous region and photograph the stunning scenery. She also wants to visit and thank the doctor who treated her in Wuhan.

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