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 outbreak continued to dominate the headlines as the nation finds novel ways to stay safe, seek care, and contribute to the disease-control effort:
Coronavirus fears remain strong among the public: A Sichuan farmer, catching a thief in his vegetable patch, shouted, “I don’t care that you’re stealing, but you’re not even wearing a mask!” (Stealing small amounts of vegetables from one’s neighbors appears to be a traditional Lantern Festival prank in Luzhou, where the incident took place.)
Mourning for medic
The nation mourned Dr. Li Wenliang, a Wuhan ophthalmologist who caught the coronavirus at work and passed away in the early morning of February 7. Dr. Li was one of the first to spread news of the SARS-like disease being discovered in Wuhan in late December, and received a police warning shortly after for “spreading rumors.”
A long-haul Hubei truck driver, who was stranded after roads to his home province were shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, was forced to drift on the highway for four days; most rest areas and communities along the way refused to let him park due to prejudice against his Hubei license plate. Traffic police in Hanzhong, Shaanxi province, eventually found the man and arranged to let him stay at a service station.
Authorities in Fangxian county, Hubei province, are offering a controversial reward of 1,000 RMB for patients who are running a temperature to voluntarily seek care at the hospital.
In Wuhan, a woman beat a gong on her apartment’s balcony in order to beg for a hospital bed for her feverish mother, who could not be admitted due to bed shortages (the mother has been hospitalized as of February 9).
As Chinese companies gradually resume work amid the virus outbreak, many have had to redesign their cafeterias to optimize disease control. Some employees have compared their new lunch breaks to taking an exam: seats all facing one direction, no talking allowed, and a “monitor” to maintain order in the lunchroom.
Many Chinese confined to their homes during the outbreak have tried to fight boredom in creative ways, but some may have taken things too far. One Wuhan resident practiced his slingshot and broke nine panes of glass on a railway office building nearby before he was caught.
In Hangzhou, security guards found a woman smuggling herself in the trunk of her boyfriend’s car in order to “get some fresh air,” since her community’s restrictive rules allow only one person per household to go outside, even if just for groceries.
Celeb on lockdown
Many viewers who tuned in to Saturday night’s CCTV Lantern Festival Gala (which was broadcast for the first time without a live audience for disease prevention) were struck by the absence of Zeng Yi, one-half of the folk-pop duo Phoenix Legend. The Hunan-born rapper explained on Weibo that his village was locked down due to the outbreak—celebrities included.
Aunties to the rescue
To combat nationwide face mask shortages caused by the virus, middle-aged women in a village in Yunnan province have set up a makeshift factory producing hundreds masks per day on sewing machines which were once part of their dowries.
Disinfect with fire
A man in Hangzhou was admitted to hospital with severe burns after he covered himself in ethanol disinfectant and got too close to an electric heater. Authorities are urging people to be careful when using flammable disinfectants
In order to avoid the risk of infection from the coronavirus, medical staff from Jiangxi province flapped their hands instead of blowing out the candles on a birthday cake two colleagues received at work.
Cover image from VCG