Observer: One year after lifting lockdown, Wuhan turns challenges into opportunities
By Yang Yang | People's Daily app
19:06, April 08, 2021

A year after its 76-day lockdown was lifted on April 8, 2020, Wuhan, the Central China city once hardest hit by the epidemic, is witnessing an influx of tourists and the rebound of its economy, a scene few would have imagined a year ago. The city has not only survived the health crisis but also turned the challenges into opportunities, making greater progress in public health, industrial upgrades and social governance.

The decision to press a “pause” button to contain the spread of the virus in a city of over 10 million residents was a game-changing move and paved the way for Wuhan’s rebirth. After lifting lockdown, Wuhan’s hard-won success in containing the virus was consolidated to further strengthen the safety and health of the people.

Since mid-May 2020, nearly 10 million people in Wuhan were tested in just half a month in a city-wide drive to screen novel coronavirus infections. Mass vaccination of Wuhan residents was launched in December last year. As of Tuesday, 3.7 million vaccine doses had been given, according to the city's health commission.

At the same time, Wuhan took a step forward to remodel the city’s public health emergency system. Since fever clinics serve as outposts to strengthen the first line of defense against the epidemic, the city completed the standardized construction of fever clinics in 62 designated hospitals and has set up new fever clinics in 203 community public health centers. New hospitals specializing in infectious diseases are being built and old ones are being innovated to improve treatment capacity.

With the help of big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, the city has built a new early warning system that coordinates data from hospitals, testing centers, drug stores, schools and key venues.

Wuhan’s economy is on track to a V-shaped recovery, with GDP declining to only 4.7 percent on a yearly basis to 1.56 trillion yuan ($241.9 billion), a huge lift from the negative 40.5 percent growth in the first quarter of last year, rejoining the country's economic tier of top 10 cities.

New industries and new forms of business are booming. The digital economy now accounts for over 40 percent of the city’s total GDP. Scenarios such as working from home, online exhibitions and unmanned production are common.

Economic transformation and upgrading are also speeding up. A number of intelligent manufacturing workshops have been built in Wuhan last year. The city’s industrial park is building a cluster for enterprises specializing in R&D on viral drugs and vaccines. The total length of test roads for 5G autonomous driving surpassed 100 km last year at the National Intelligent Connected Vehicle (Wuhan) Pilot Testing Zone.

In 2020, Wuhan’s East Lake High-tech Development Zone, also known as the “Optics Valley of China”, achieved a regional GDP of 200.19 billion yuan ($30.97 billion), an increase of 5.1 percent.

Attracted by the resilience and vitality of Wuhan, more businesses, both from home and abroad have flocked to the city after its rebirth. US industrial conglomerate Honeywell, a Fortune 500 firm, set up its emerging market headquarters and innovation center in the city.

Social governance, especially grassroots community governance, was enhanced. Thousands of community workers and volunteers stepped up in the coronavirus fight, responsible for monitoring the outbreak, controlling access to their communities, education campaigns to increase public awareness of the virus and helping disadvantaged residents.

As communities remain an important line of defense against future public health crisis, more resources and personnel are being allocated to grassroots levels to provide more services to local residents and improve the scientific governance of urban communities.

What makes a nation great is that it never gives up in the face of adversity. Behind Wuhan’s fast recovery stands a great nation and its heroic people. It also demonstrated the advantages of CPC leadership and China’s socialist system. These in return have bolstered the Chinese people’s confidence and rallied their strength to march toward a better life.