Shadow of virus slowly lifts from epicenter Wuhan

WUHAN - Fans dancing at an electronic music festival, long lines at breakfast stands, gridlocked traffic — the scenes in coronavirus ground zero Wuhan these days would have been unthinkable in January.

The central Chinese city’s recovery after a 76-day lockdown was lifted in April has brought life back onto its streets.

The queues snaking outside breakfast stands are a far cry from the terrified crowds that lined up at the city’s hospitals in the first weeks after the city was quarantined in January to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The hazmat suits and safety goggles that were once the norm have given way to umbrellas and sun hats as tourists shield themselves from the scorching summer sun, posing for photos in front of the city’s historic Yellow Crane Tower.

But all is not back to normal.

Business remains slow in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the coronavirus was first detected late last year before it unleashed a global pandemic.

“In the first half of the year, we only opened some projects that had been decided before the outbreak,” Hu Zeyu, an employee at a local real estate company, tells AFP.

“Business volume has been greatly reduced.”

Food stall owner Yang Liankang says things are improving slowly, with sales growing from around 300 yuan ($28.72) a day a month ago to more than 1,000 yuan.

“It’s not as good as my ideal,” he says.

In some Wuhan neighborhoods, plastic barriers ubiquitous during the lockdown continue to restrict traffic.