Wuhan's after-pandemic pool party sends a message to world: strict anti-virus measures have a payback

By Zhao Yusha Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/19 20:23:03

Tourists have fun at Playa Maya Water Park in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Aug. 15, 2020.Photo:Xinhua

It's not only a massive pool party. Wuhan, the city where COVID-19 was first reported and the one hit hardest by the virus, is now welcoming an influx of tourists, and its economy is reviving, which local residents believed should not only be seen as a sign of the city's return to normalcy, but also a reminder to countries grappling with the virus that strict preventive measures have a payback.

Recently, a video of a pool party at the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park, which featured partygoers in swimsuits shoulder to shoulder, and DJs waving to half-naked crowds who waved back, went viral on the internet. 

The scene, which was taken for granted by Chinese people who followed the city's journey back to normalcy since the 76-day-lockdown was lifted in April, shocked some foreigners. AFP posted the video on Twitter and called it the "Wuhan Wave" on Saturday and since then "Wuhan" has been trending on Twitter.

One Twitter user said "Wuhan is having a music festival and New York City still hasn't opened up its gyms," and another replied bitterly "Move to Wuhan then."

Some also questioned if the video was recent, because it seemed strange to see a city ravaged by the virus for months had recovered so soon.

The park said on Tuesday that the video was taken recently, and it took necessary measures to protect visitors' and employees' safety, such as temperature tests and disinfection. It also said it had capped the number of entrants to half of the pre-pandemic era. 

Some Wuhan residents reached by the Global Times called concerns and doubts about their pool party as "sour grapes," and said if they paid close attention, signs of a reviving society are everywhere. 

Tourism is also heating up across Wuhan and Hubei Province, after the region implemented a free-entry policy at many tourist attractions for domestic visitors on August 8. 

Yellow Crane Tower, an iconic tourist spot in Wuhan, received an average of 15,000 tourists per day last week, surpassing the same period last year.

Zhang Yong, who owns a small taxi company in Wuhan, told the Global Times that he was nearly on the verge of bankruptcy in April when the lockdown was lifted. "There weren't even many local people, not to mention tourists. But now my business is blooming with the city having fully recovered, and I survived."

Mini Hu, a Wuhan native who lives in Beijing, hadn't returned to her hometown since September last year, but she went back this weekend. She told the Global Times that long lines formed in front of every famous local restaurant and milk tea shop. 

"I used to see pictures and videos showing Wuhan's empty streets and closed shops during lockdown, it broke my heart," said Hu, noting that when she went back this time, she felt like the city hadn't been hit by the virus at all. "Except for people wearing masks, nothing was different from the last time I left." 

All those scenes together made politicians and the media that still use the term "Wuhan virus", ridiculous.

Zhang said that ever since Wuhan published its city-wide test results, people have been gradually letting their guard down. 

In June, Wuhan reported 300 asymptomatic cases out of roughly 10 million local residents who participated in a citywide nucleic acid test program.  The city hasn't reported any new cases since mid-May.

"Now, people don't think the virus is a big deal. We believe a vaccine will come out soon," Zhang said, noting that the biggest concern for him and some of his business partners now is the souring relationship between China and the US. "We are worried that it could affect our economy."

Wuhan's economy was also hit hard by the pandemic, and its GDP in the first quarter shrank 40.5 percent year-on-year. But according to local media Changjiang Daily, the city's second-quarter performance bounced back to the same level as a year earlier.

 "Wuhan is making fewer and fewer headlines in China and worldwide, as everything has gone back to normal," said Zhang, who was amused by the fact that "foreigners were making a fuss about our pool party."

"I guess it also rings a bell for some countries, which are still struggling to fight COVID-19, that without strict measures, the virus won't be fended off. We fought hard, this is our payback," said Zhang. 

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