Masks off, mortarboards on: Wuhan sheds Covid for mass graduation

AFP
A huge red banner welcomed more than 11,000 students of the Central China Normal University in Wuhan for a massive graduation ceremony over a year.
AFP

A huge red banner welcomed more than 11,000 students of the Central China Normal University in Wuhan for a massive graduation ceremony over a year after the city was battered by the first global outbreak of COVID-19.

Students in navy gowns and mortarboards sat in crowded rows, without social distancing or face masks, beneath the sign that read: "Welcoming the graduates of 2020 back home. We wish you all a great future."

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 reopen after being closed for 76 days, although schools remained shut for longer.

The city held limited graduation ceremonies last year, with Wuhan University hosting a mostly-online event in June, with 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.

Quoting an ancient Chinese poem, the banner offered students advice for the future: "The ocean is boundless for leaping fish."

China has 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 yesterday, including 18 imported from overseas and two in a local outbreak in the southern Guangdong Province.

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