COVERING THE PANDEMIC

World News Day: In Wuhan, 'ground zero' of the coronavirus outbreak

Above: Jinyintan Hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan was one of the first to start treating Covid-19 patients. Right: ST's China correspondent Elizabeth Law in Wuhan. In the background is Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the coronavirus was b
Jinyintan Hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan was one of the first to start treating Covid-19 patients.PHOTOS: ST FILE, ELIZABETH LAW
Above: Jinyintan Hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan was one of the first to start treating Covid-19 patients. Right: ST's China correspondent Elizabeth Law in Wuhan. In the background is Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the coronavirus was b
ST's China correspondent Elizabeth Law in Wuhan. In the background is Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, where the coronavirus was believed to have originated.

In January, our China Correspondent Elizabeth Law was among the first to visit Wuhan, the city of 11 million that was the epicentre of the global coronavirus outbreak, returning in April when it lifted its two-month lockdown. She recounts:

By the time train G4815 pulled out of Beijing West Railway Station on Tuesday afternoon, I had been asked three times to show my passport and grilled about when I entered Beijing and whether I had completed the mandatory quarantine requirements.

I had arrived in the capital on March 10, where I spent 14 days in quarantine in my flat in Beijing, regularly checking my temperature.

For my return trip to Wuhan, I dragged my luggage full of personal protective equipment - full body suits, heavy-duty masks, goggles and gloves, and multiple bottles of hand sanitiser.

On my last trip in early January, I wrote about locals in Wuhan who had described the mysterious new virus as "just the seasonal flu".

The city of 11 million people went on to experience profound grief and trauma as the epicentre of China's Covid-19 outbreak.

The capital city of Hubei province had to endure a severe 76-day lockdown to contain the virus, which forced residents to remain in their homes for more than two months.

Throughout the outbreak, trains journeyed to the city, but passengers were few - many were wary of travelling for fear of catching the virus.

 
 
 

• Read her full story online at https://str.sg/JgTq and access the other four parts in this series via the headers in the navigation bar.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2020, with the headline 'Wuhan: Ground Zero'. Print Edition | Subscribe