Wuhan three years on: fear subsides but caution remains in cradle of COVID

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By Mark Armstrong
Caution remains in the city of 11m residents
Caution remains in the city of 11m residents   -   Copyright  Ng Han Guan/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.

Three years on the suspected 'ground zero' of the COVID pandemic remains shuttered and silent.

Soon after the mysterious virus was first reported, the Wuhan fish market was closed and the city of 11 million residents went into lockdown.

But life is now back to normal for many across the globe and after almost three years of gruelling lockdowns and mandatory mass testing, Beijing last month lifted its hardline zero-COVID policy.

In Wuhan, life is also becoming less restrictive as it opens up, but dormant reminders are still in place, such as the hastily erected emergency hospital, and for citizens, the trauma is still fresh in the memory.

"It’s not been easy doing anything these past few years," said one man, "everyone has been facing different levels of hardship in work and life."

"Of course we were scared," explained one woman. "This year was the first time people started being widely infected. Last year and over the past three years no one was infected. The new year will of course be better. We’re not afraid of the virus now. We don't have that fear in our hearts anymore. "

Fear subsides but caution remains

By the time Chinese authorities moved in to close the Huanan seafood and wildlife market, the new virus was already spreading around China and, inevitably, the world.

Shocking images from Wuhan's hospitals foretold of a global health crisis not seen in decades, if not centuries.

Today, Wuhan seems relatively normal as it enters a new year, but the pandemic's toll is all too evident and, amid a fresh upsurge in cases across the country, there's anxiety that the nightmare may not yet be over.

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