The city of Wuhan, where the first-ever coronavirus cases were reported, celebrated New Year's Eve in style.
On New Year's Eve, crowds gathered for the midnight countdown, enjoyed a funfair, and prayed at Buddhist temples.
By contrast, many cities worldwide were forced to cancel the annual celebrations to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photos from Paris, London, New York, Berlin, and Milan show deserted squares where in previous years there would have been crowds of thousands.
In Wuhan, China, thousands gathered on the streets for the New Year celebration.
The city was the ground-zero of the coronavirus pandemic, and reported the first COVID-19 cluster exactly a year ago, on December 31, 2019.
Since May, it has been free from the virus following a strictly-enforced 76-day lockdown of its 11 million citizens.
Liberated from the threat of COVID-19 and life has returned to near-normal for Wuhan residents, and images from the city showed they could celebrate the New Year by cramming onto the streets to greet the New Year.
The scenes were the opposite of what could be observed in much of the rest of the world, where emergency public-health measures banished the usual crowds in the world's best-known cities.
In New York, Times Square was deserted of revelers to watch the iconic ball drop, for the first time since 1907, reported Mail Online.
This week saw the deadliest day in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic began, with a record-breaking number of hospitalizations foreshadowing potentially darker days still to come.
States across the US reported more than 3,900 deaths on Wednesday and over 125,000 hospitalizations, according to data from The Covid Tracking Project.
London cancelled its traditional firework display near the Houses of Parliament.
Where there were usually thick crowds, police patrolled to break up any unauthorized gatherings:
A replacement fireworks and lights display took place in east London over the Millennium Dome:
Germany too had harsh restrictions. Performers played in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, but with nobody to watch them:
And in Cologne, signs warned away anyone tempted to see in the New Year in front of its Gothic cathedral:
Paris imposed a curfew from 8.pm., ensuring there were no massed crowds around the Eiffel Tower:
Milan, Italy, where the coronavirus first took hold in a large Western city, also had curfews to keep crowds away:
Istanbul's Taksim square was similarly abandoned:
A year has passed since the World Health Organization announced the first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.
Yet, the virus' origin and the true timeline of its worldwide spread remain a mystery. A growing body of evidence now suggests it was circulating months before the first cases captured global attention in Wuhan, China.
A study from Milan's National Cancer Institute found that four of Italy's coronavirus cases dated back to October 2019.
Research from China shows people were getting sick in Wuhan in November and early December: One analysis, based on satellite images of Wuhan hospitals and online searches for COVID-19 symptoms in the area, suggested the virus may have started circulating there as early as late summer.
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