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Crowds throng Wuhan, where pandemic began, to celebrate New Year

On Monday, citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was for four years for reporting on conditions inside Wuhan during the height of the outbreak

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Thousands of New Year revellers packed into the centre of , the Chinese city where was first detected, cheering and releasing balloons to welcome in 2021.

Police erected fences to try to prevent congestion around the city’s Customs House clock tower, but the measure was ineffective due to the large turnout of mainly young people.

has been a very difficult year for because we have experienced the epidemic, especially in Wuhan, which is an unforgettable experience for ,” local resident Xu Du told AFP.

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Most of the crowd wore for the celebrations on Thursday evening, which included a light show.

Wuhan was put under a strict for more than two months from late January, but has returned to normal life since the summer. Schools fully reopened in September.

has controlled the epidemic very well now,” said reveller Li Yusu. “But there are still some other countries suffering from the . I hope other countries can get through this difficulty as soon as possible.”

China has faced widespread over its initial handling of the virus, which emerged in Wuhan, in the central province of Hubei, in December 2019.

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The country has been accused of covering up the and allowing the virus to spread internationally.

has also recently attempted to cast doubts on whether Covid-19 originated in Wuhan.

On Monday, citizen journalist Zhang Zhan was for four years for reporting on conditions inside Wuhan during the height of the outbreak.

The city of 11 million people was forced into a tough lockdown from January until April and about 4,000 people died, according to Chinese figures.

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© Agence -Presse

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