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More than 11,000 Wuhan students flocked to a stadium for their graduation ceremony without masks or social distancing, even as the rest of Asia grapples with COVID lockdowns

More than 11,000 students and 3,000 proud parents showed up at Wuhan stadium unmasked for mass graduation ceremony Stringer / Reuters China
  • Some 11,000 students from a Wuhan university and their parents attended a graduation ceremony held at a stadium more than 18 months after the start of the pandemic in the city.

  • Graduates from the former epicenter of the pandemic wore no masks or social distancing.

  • Indeed, China has reported less than 20 cases per day in its 23 provinces.

  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

For more than 11,000 students in a graduating class at a Wuhan university, it was as if COVID had never happened.

Students turned up in gowns and mortars for the Central China Normal University graduation ceremony on June 13.

Notably, the student crowd wore no masks or social distancing, a stark contrast to the intense COVID lockdowns in Japan and the mask mandate that still exists in parts of Asia like Singapore.

According to local media outlet Hubei News, the ceremony took place in a stadium on the university’s campus and brought together more than 11,000 students. The outlet wrote that more than 3,000 parents were given seats to watch their children graduate, bringing the total number of people in the stadium to more than 14,000.

Welcoming the graduating classes was a red banner, which carried a line from an ancient Chinese poem that read, “The ocean is limitless for jumping fish.”

Students in the Class of 2020 posted messages on Weibo (the national version of Twitter) celebrating the event. A student with Panghuhudewangwangya ID wrote, “I’m back to school, filling with regrets that I couldn’t graduate last year.

Another student wrote, “Thank you to my school for providing the Class of 2020 with a graduation ceremony.”

This mass graduation ceremony took place in what had been at the end of 2019, the epicenter of the COVID pandemic. The virus was first detected in the city of Hubei province, after which its 11 million residents were forced into lockdown mode for 76 days.

In the months following the lockdown, Wuhan rebounded and began hosting large-scale public events in August 2020, months before other global centers took similar action.

Chinese authorities say COVID is more or less under control in the country. Yesterday, only 21 cases of COVID were recorded, all imported.

The country’s most recent restrictions came after two cases were reported on June 14 in the southern province of Guangdong, which sparked strict travel restrictions, mass testing and frenzied vaccination campaigns. In April, small-scale COVID outbreaks in southwestern Yunnan Province also faced aggressive mass testing measures and immediate city-wide shutdowns for 72 hours.

China has succeeded in minimizing its locally transmitted community cases by subjecting all travelers in the country to a strict “14 + 7 day” quarantine procedure, which requires spending 14 days in a facility and an additional week of self-quarantine at home.

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