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Party like it's 2019? In Wuhan, you can

Images of partygoers in the city, once the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, prompt global outrage

It's the kind of party you wouldn't have blinked twice about if it had happened last year. Thousands of people gathered at a water park in the Chinese city of Wuhan - the same place where the coronavirus first emerged late last year - for a music festival last weekend.

In images that went viral, these partygoers were seen dressed in all manner of swimwear, lying on floats or standing beside one another, bathed in colourful lights during an evening performance.

No one appeared to be wearing face masks.

"Wuhan partying like it's 2019," US foreign policy expert Ian Bremmer said on Facebook on Wednesday, when he posted a short Agence France-Presse video clip of the festival showing performers on stage.

The Daily Telegraph in Australia, meanwhile, ran a photo of it on its front page on Wednesday with the headline "China's Big Party", adding that "life's a beach in Wuhan as world pays virus price".

The water park reopened in late June, weeks after a 76-day lockdown in Wuhan was lifted in April. Since mid-May, there have been no new domestically transmitted cases officially reported in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.

But with many parts of the world still facing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, some ST Facebook users were amazed at the huge gathering and worried about the lack of social distancing.

"Eeeks!!!! How horrible," wrote Rachel Rox.

Melvin Lee commented: "Sounds like an ultimate combo of something worrying... people crammed together... and in water where bacteria/viruses would probably spread? Hopefully there wouldn't be another lockdown, otherwise countries would have to take another hit financially."

Yet there were others who seemed more understanding of the partygoers.

FB user Li Xinyang said: "People be mad at them saying, will have second wave, but they have no idea that the entire Hubei province has reported no new domestic cases since mid-May."


Thousands of partygoers watching a show as they cool off at a water park in Wuhan last weekend. No one seemed to be wearing face masks. Since mid-May, there have been no new domestically transmitted cases officially reported in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Another user said: "Just let them have their fun, even if there's another outbreak, I'm sure they will be in lockdown in no time. They won't be flying to Singapore to infect y'all. Chill."

On Wednesday, Chinese newspaper Global Times said online attacks from people overseas "shows foreign sour grapes". It quoted netizens who believe the activities were proof of the city's hard-worn victory over the coronavirus.

On Twitter, some users agreed with that view.

"They deserve it after all the horror they went through. As long as it's over. Otherwise, this is inane," one user from Britain said.

Another commented: "They have tested almost every single person in the city so they should have the right and reason to celebrate. Just wish every country and city hit by this evil virus will be celebrating soon as well."

GOOGLE DOWN

Google's global outage on Thursday affected users in Singapore, as well as those in Japan, India, parts of the United States, Europe and other South-east Asian countries.

DownDetector recorded reports from around 10,000 affected users here, most of whom faced problems with attaching documents.

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Many could not log into their Gmail accounts, create files in their Google Drive, post messages via Google Chat or record Meet videoconferencing sessions.

Some took to Twitter to express their thoughts and vent their frustration.

"I was in the middle of drafting the best e-mail in the history of the world #gmaildown," wrote The Halal Food Blog author Adam Shah.

Another user tweeted: "Et tu @Google... 2020 definitely is doomed."

While some welcomed the outage as a time to take a break, there were those who were worried about falling behind in their work.

"Google Mail, Meet and Drive not working properly, Google confirms issues. Don't know whether to feel supremely happy or extremely stressed!," one user said.

Some in India dished out advice and posted memes.

"Attachments hold you down," said the text in one GIF showing Gmail balloons flying up and away, with user Akash Kumawat commenting: "Let go of the attachments. :P"

As if summing up netizens' collective exasperation, another Twitter user said: "I've seen everything in this pandemic. Even Gmail is afraid of attachments now."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2020, with the headline 'Party like it's 2019? In Wuhan, you can'. Print Edition | Subscribe