Daily US Times, Beijing: Despite warnings from health authorities, large numbers of people flocked to popular tourist sites and major cities across China over the country’s holiday weekend.
Authorities warned that the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic remains far from over.
Vast gatherings pictured on April 4 at Huangshan mountain park in Anhui province. The pictures showed thousands of people crammed together, many wearing face masks, eager to experience the great outdoors after months of travel restrictions and strict lockdown measures.
According to the state media Global Times, the rush was so big that the park authority was forced to step of issuing a notice declaring that the park had reached its 20,000 person daily capacity at 7.48 a.m.
Meanwhile, the famous Bund waterfront of Shanghai was once again packed with tourists and shoppers, after weeks of being near-deserted. Many of the city’s restaurants were also appeared to be doing a brisk trade, while several requiring reservations to enter.
Capital Beijing experienced the same scene, with locals flocking to the city’s parks and open spaces.
The abrupt return to apparent normality comes more than three months after the virus was first detected in Wuhan, capital of Hubei.
The virus brought much of China near standstill to contain transmissions. The outbreak later turned into a global pandemic, infecting more than a million people, and claimed more than 70,00 lives.
Currently, the United States and Europe are experiencing the worst of it. Italy has reported more than 16,000, Spain more than 13,000 and France more than 8,000 deaths.
New York became the epicenter of the virus outbreak in the US. More than 3,000 deaths have been reported in the state alone.
Many countries imposes hard restriction to people who come outside despite warnings.
When the virus was at its peak, thousands of new cases were recorded in China every day. As China took sweeping measures, that numbers decreased significantly in recent weeks. On Monday, China reported just 39 new cases, all but one of which were imported. To date, China has recorded 3,335 deaths with 82,641 cases.
But the chief epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention told the Health Times on Thursday that China had not seen the end of the epidemic.
He said: “China is not near the end, but has entered a new stage. With the global epidemic raging, China has not reached the end.”
Too much, too soon?
As the new infections in China reportedly falling, the government has tentatively begun relaxing the country’s manufacturing and service industries.
The long shutdown has affected every sector of the country’s economy, leading to concerns of long term damage.
However, there have been signs in recent weeks, that the government has been wary of opening up too quickly and sparking a second wave of infections in the country.
According to state media, plans to re-open movie cinemas were canceled in late March, less than two weeks after they had been told to restart.
When pictures of big crowds at Huangshan emerged on Chinese social media, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Daily issued a stern reprimand on social media warning tourists: “Do not gather!”
But people were seen in places despite warnings.
An opinion writer for the newspaper writes in his column while giving warnings, it was understandable people would want to get out after being shut up in quarantine, now was not the time to stop being “vigilant.”
“If there are asymptomatic carriers present during large-scale gatherings, the consequences would be severe,” the article said.