Masks off, mortarboards on: Wuhan sheds COVID-19 for mass graduation

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 15 2021 02:15 PM

Masks off, mortarboards on: Wuhan sheds COVID-19 for mass graduation 1
This photo taken shows nearly 9,000 graduates, including more than 2,000 students who could not attend the graduation ceremony last year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, attending a graduation ceremony at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many graduating students last year spent their final days of school away from campus, celebrating their graduation in digital form amid the pandemic. AFP

BEIJING— A huge red banner welcomed more than 11,000 students 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 re-open after 76 days closed off, although schools remained shut for longer.

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

China has since 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 on Tuesday, including 18 imported from overseas and 2 in a local outbreak in southern Guangdong province.

There have been 4,636 deaths officially reported, the majority in Wuhan.

Quoting a line of ancient Chinese poetry, the banner offered students advice for the future: "The ocean is boundless for leaping fish."

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