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Covid in Hebei, cold front in Beijing, unhealthy hormones, and overtime proves deadly—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, a Covid outbreak hits Hebei, a sexist ad sparks a backlash, a tech employee dies of overwork, and a cold snap sweeps the country:

New year, old news

A new Covid-19 outbreak in Hebei province of northern China saw 640 confirmed cases since January 2, with many initial infections linked to weddings and other gatherings. The province is currently in “wartime status,” with the cities of Xingtai and Shijiazhuang requiring citizens to quarantine at home, and some transport in through the province restricted.

Work for the holidays

Several city governments in Zhejiang province are suggesting companies offer overtime work and pay additional wages and bonuses to discourage employees from going home for Chinese New Year. As local transmissions of Covid-19 have been reported in several provinces, the Chinese government is calling on citizens nationwide to reduce travel and gatherings during the busy Spring Festival period.

Race against the clock

The punishing “996” overtime work regime in China’s tech and other sectors is once again in the news, after it was reported that a 23-year-old employee of e-commerce firm Pinduoduo died suddenly on her way home from work at 1:30 a.m. In the aftermath, a man from Shanghai accused delivery company STO Express of firing him in September of last year after he refused to work overtime, though the company has denied the ex-employee’s version of the story.

Historic freeze

As a historic cold front sweeps Asia, some neighborhoods from Shanghai to Inner Mongolia are left without water due to frozen pipes. With temperatures in Beijing reaching minus 19.6 degrees Celsius, its lowest recorded since 1966, the Beijing Zoo knitted sweaters to keep two of its tortoises warm. A viral graphic from a meterological report service showed a map of China as a freezer, asking, “Which shelf are you on?”

Unhealthy hormones

A brand of antibacterial cream produced by a Fujian company is under investigation after a 5-month-old infant in Jiangsu province developed a severely swollen face and facial hair after using. Asked by the baby’s father, a consumer safety social media account sent the cream to two testing companies, which found excess levels of hormones in the product.

Heartbreaking home video

A father in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, was given a few days off work to see his child after a baby monitoring camera caught his 1-year old daughter emotionally asking her parents to come from home to Anqing, a city five hours away.

Spy seat

A tech company in Zhejiang province has installed “smart seat cushions” that can measure an employee’s heart rate, breathing, and posture, as well as the duration they are seated in the chair during work hours. The company denied using the seat cushions to monitor its employees, saying this was a trial for the product only.

Yet another sexist ad

Purcotton company has apologized for an advertisement showing a woman being followed down a dark street, then scaring away her stalker by wiping off her makeup with Purcotton’s facial wipes and turning around as a man. Backlash from netizens, as well as the All-China Women’s Federation, pointed out that the advertisement blames women for sexual assault and implies taking of makeup is all that’s necessary to keep women safe.

Hero’s eyes

A doctor at Wuhan Central Hospital, where many of the city’s coronavirus patients were treated, says she has lost vision in one eye following cataract surgery at the Wuhan branch of AIER Eye Hospital last year, prompting anger and sympathy among netizens. The hospital at first denied their responsibility, but in the end apologized to the doctor for their “ineptitude in meeting management standards.”

Cover image from VCG


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