For once, this column lives up to its name—it’s Viral Week
Viral Week is our weekly round-up of the weekend’s trending memes, humor, rumor, gossip, and everything else Chinese netizens are chatting about.
This week, the coronavirus leads to boredom, DIY prevention techniques, bids for freedom, hungry seagulls, and tragedy, while grief over Kobe’s death goes too far:
With face masks sold out in many cities across China, those who are desperate to protect themselves against the virus (or just need to enter stores that require them to wear masks) are making their own—using everyday items like instant noodle containers, pomelo and orange skins, plastic water bottles, massive pieces of lettuce, diapers, and feminine hygiene products.
Keep your distance
Shanghai shoppers, worried about infection, developed what seemed a comical queuing style by standing meters apart as they lined up for free face masks.
Seagulls that migrated to Dianchi Lake in Yunnan were disappointed to find a lack of tourists to feed them this year due to the disease outbreak. Luckily, lake management staff came bearing food.
Criminally Bad Taste
A distraught fan of deceased NBA star Kobe Bryant in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, was detained for seven days by police for writing in his WeChat Moments that he’d “rather see [the coronavirus] spread and kill 1,000 people, than have Kobe leave the world.” While agreeing that the comment was in poor taste, netizens are questioning which law it is that the tactless man broke.
Boredom breeds distractions
In response to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Chinese across the country have been advised to avoid stepping out of their homes. Confined to their apartments, many have developed strange ways to entertain themselves and keep boredom at bay.
Mr Li, a PhD student at Tsinghua University, began teaching his cat the basics of computer science (much to the cat’s displeasure).
Meanwhile, a Chongqing family passed the time by weighing themselves with the pole-and-scales method normally used for pigs.
Change the date
February 2 was set to be one of the busiest days for weddings this year, because the date (“2020.02.02”) is a palindrome, and two and zero sound similar to “love you” in Chinese. Many couples were disappointed, however, when the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in response to the spread of the coronavirus, advised canceling marriage registrations for the time being.
The epidemic has led schools across the country to postpone the beginning of the new semester, leading some teachers to broadcast lessons on live streaming platforms. However, when a biology teacher in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, mentioned terms like “sperm” and “egg” during a broadcast, the feed was blocked by the streaming platform for “violating relevant regulations.”
Red flags for the Red Cross
The Hubei Red Cross Society was criticized after it emerged they had given only 3,000 donated masks to the Wuhan Union Hospital, a major center for the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients at the epicenter of the outbreak, while sending 18,000 to a private hospital specializing in obstetrics.
Later, CCTV’s reporters were denied entry to the Society’s warehouse and had their live report cut off midway. Amid the public outrage, the Society apologized for what they called “management issues” and promised to rectify the distribution problems.
Crossing the Yangtze
An elderly man from Hubei attempted to break the blockade of the province and row across the Yangtze River in a tiny wooden boat he fashioned himself. The man claimed he needed to get to his workplace on the other side of the river, but couldn’t because of travel restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the disease. Authorities intercepted the man and sent him home.
Tragedy of isolation
A boy in Hubei province with cerebral palsy has died after his father and caretaker was placed in quarantine. The 17-year-old was apparently left alone in his home for six days without food or water. The local government is investigating the boy’s death.
Cover image from Qimono