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Frenchman enjoys a celebration of life in Wuhan

Updated: 2021-02-26 10:49 ( Xinhua )

Spending his weeklong Spring Festival holiday visiting relatives, setting off firecrackers, eating local specialties and lazing in the warm sunshine, Balthazar Boyer was able to feel a festive ambience in Wuhan.

"It was a very pleasant week off. This Spring Festival was completely different to the last one," says Boyer, 39.

Unlike last year, when he and his family spent the holiday anxiously in quarantine at home, they were delighted to celebrate together with family and friends this year, embracing normality in the megacity that was once hard-hit by COVID-19.

Boyer, the general manager of a French company's China office, has lived in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province, for nearly 20 years. He settled in the city after acquiring his master's degree in law from Wuhan University and marrying a local woman.

Two weeks after Boyer and his wife returned to Wuhan from a family visit in France in January last year, the city announced suspension of public transport as well as outbound flights and trains to fight the epidemic.

Though the French government organized several evacuations for its nationals in Wuhan, Boyer and his wife chose to stay.

"Why would we leave? Wuhan is our home," says Boyer, adding that he was confident in the Chinese government's response.

That year, the family spent the Lunar New Year holiday at home, watching the news every day to keep themselves updated.

"Balthazar's birthday coincided with last year's Spring Festival holiday, but we were in no mood for a celebration," says Boyer's wife, Hu Fan.

The couple's anxieties and concerns gradually eased as they learned that medics nationwide were rushing to assist Wuhan, temporary hospitals were being built and infections were dropping. Their worries were also eased as their community organized group purchases to provide substantial daily necessities.

"I received so many kinds of foods besides what was needed for our daily meals-I could even try to cook different cuisines," says Hu.

As Wuhan gradually regained its vitality, their lives also returned to normal. When Boyer resumed his business, he required all his employees to maintain social distancing and wear masks at work.

"I can feel that Wuhan is recovering in all respects," says Boyer. Though shadowed by the pandemic in 2020, his optoelectronics business in Wuhan was just as profitable as it was in 2019.

Boyer and Hu were fully prepared to celebrate Spring Festival this year, which fell on Feb 12.

"We thoroughly cleaned our house ahead of the festival, hoping to sweep away all the bad luck of last year and welcome the good luck in the Year of the Ox," says Hu.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, the family visited Hu's parents in the suburbs of Wuhan, where they enjoyed a meal together.

"Our baby received gifts of money from relatives, and we were really happy because it was the first time he has been immersed in the traditional ambience of the Chinese New Year since he was born," says Hu. The family also welcomed friends into their home.

Boyer returned to his office on Feb 18, the first working day after the festival.

"There are so many things to do and prepare. I think my career will go well this year," he says.

To curb the spread of COVID-19, many in China chose to follow the government's recommendation and stay put for the festival, including Boyer and Hu.

Looking ahead in the Year of the Ox, Boyer expects to travel to other Chinese cities-and abroad, if the pandemic eases.

"I would like to go back to France to see my parents, whom I haven't seen for more than a year," he says.

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