Central China Normal University in Wuhan, the origin location of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, held a mass graduation event for over 11,000 students on Sunday without requiring masks or social distancing, video footage from Agence France-Presse (AFP) revealed.
Additional photos show thousands of students densely packed on a field in rows of folding chairs. Masks appear to be entirely absent, and the chairs are spaced with no regard for social distancing.
Masks off, mortarboards on: Wuhan sheds Covid for mass graduation.
A huge red banner welcomed nearly 9,000 students in Wuhan for a massive graduation ceremony over a year after the city was battered by the first global outbreak of Covid-19https://t.co/h67xIJNItn pic.twitter.com/xjXFDLljtk
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) June 15, 2021
Sunday’s ceremony stands in stark contrast to similar affairs Wuhan schools held last year during the height of the pandemic. Wuhan University, in June 2020, allowed only 660 students to attend graduation in person, while more than 15,000 students had to watch the occasion online, according to state propaganda outlet China Daily.
Chinese dictator Xi Jinping visited Wuhan in March 2020 and formally declared victory over the pandemic, well before many severe outbreaks ravaged the country.
The origin location of the virus, the city has been at the forefront of China’s efforts to claim it has overcome the pandemic. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has staged large-scale, unrestricted festivities in the city throughout the past two years, only to generate equally large outbreaks of the Wuhan coronavirus.
Early among these superspreader festivities was a New Year’s Eve celebration on December 31, 2020, during which thousands of people gathered in the streets of Wuhan to welcome 2021. State media outlet Global Times dismissed concerns about potential infections, instead, telling readers to “get used to it,” indicating Wuhan would continue to host large events, which the city did. Within two weeks of the festivities, China had closed at least 11 regions and faced a national resurgence of the virus.
Amid that outbreak, China again staged celebrations in Wuhan, this time to mark one year since the imposition of the city’s draconian lockdown. The city’s coronavirus prevention measures were decidedly brutal, with some reports emerging of the city trapping residents inside their homes by welding the doors shut.
In early May, China celebrated the communist holiday of International Workers’ Day or “May Day,” holding mass gatherings across the country, including in Wuhan, which attracted tens of thousands of visitors to that city alone. The government estimated more than 250 million people traveled within China to celebrate the holiday.
China continues to struggle with vaccinating its population as many citizens are hesitant to receive the domestically produced options. Chinese Center for Disease Control director Gao Fu lamented that the Chinese-made vaccines “don’t have very high protection rates” in April. The country has produced five domestic vaccine options, but, faced with virtually non-existent demand for them within China, has largely focused on exporting them to countries with less suspicious populations.
China’s top respiratory disease expert, Zhong Nanshan, warned in March that the country would remain vulnerable to the virus long after other countries if it did not improve its vaccination rate. “If China continues with such a low vaccination rate, it will not keep up. There’s a possibility that in the future, other countries will have [herd immunity] but China doesn’t,” he said.