Jilin Outbreak
Photo Credit: VCG

First Covid-19 Deaths in Over a Year and Other Trending News

Two Covid-19 deaths in Jilin, actor fined 106 million yuan for tax evasion, ban on flavored vapes, sexist ad panned—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 talking about.

First Covid-19 deaths in over a year

On Saturday, China’s National Health Commission announced that two Covid-19 patients died in Jilin province. A senior official said both victims had underlying health conditions. The Chinese mainland reported only two Covid-19 deaths for all of 2021, the last of those on January 25. The country continues to face its worst outbreak in two years, with Jilin the worst affected area, with additional outbreaks in major cities including Shanghai, Beijing, and Shenzhen.

Last week, the National Health Commission also announced that Covid-19 cases with mild symptoms will no longer be hospitalized, but instead be put under centralized quarantine and transfered for hospitalization only when symptoms worsen.

Scandals exposed on Consumer Rights Day

CCTV’s 3.15 Gala TV show which aired on March 15, Consumer Rights Day, revealed a series of scams and product scandals: In Harbin, undercover reporters found male staff of a livestreaming company pretending to be women online in order to scam viewers out of money and gifts, a practice investigators found to be common in the industry. Meanwhile a pickle factory was exposed for unsanitary production, with workers pickling cabbages in holes dug into the ground, stepping on ingredients while wearing slippers or barefoot.

Ban on flavored vapes

China’s Tobacco Monopoly Administration announced a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes from May 1. From then, consumers will only be able to buy tobacco-flavored vapes, while the regulations also prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. China is the world’s largest e-cigarette producer, home to more than 1,500 vape manufacturers and brands.

Actor Deng Lun fined 106 million yuan for tax evasion

The Shanghai Tax Bureau fined Chinese actor Deng Lun 106 million yuan for tax evasion. Deng, who starred in Faith Makes Great: Tianhe, a 2021 TV drama which told stories of the CPC for the 100th anniversary of the Party’s founding, posted an apology to his 40 million followers on Weibo. However, his personal accounts on Weibo and Douyin were suspended, while TV series featuring him have erased his name from their cast lists.

Sexist recruitment ad panned

A textile company in Zhejiang province came under fire for a sexist recruitment advert which listed interns as “maids,” junior positions as “ladies of talents,” and director as “empress.” Netizens questioned if the company is building a harem, and commented that its HR staff had watched too many Qing dynasty court dramas.

Superstitious corrupt official makes headlines

A corrupt official surnamed Tan in Guangxi apparently used witchcraft to curse his case investigators and supervisors. Tan practiced “yanzhen,” which involves crafting paper or wooden figures of people, writing their birthdays on them, and piercing them with nails to curse the human targets. Tan is under investigation for taking bribes, promoting family members, and having extramarital affairs.

Reporter beaten for investigating bogus alcohol

An employee of a liquor company accused of selling fake Maotai, an expensive brand of rice wine, or baijiu, verbally abused, then beat up journalists from The Paper who were investigating the case. The employee, surnamed Liu, also smashed one of the reporter’s phones. The company, Haoting, came under scrutiny when a consumer surnamed Hu purchased 19 bottles of Maotai from them, but later found 17 of them were fakes. Local police placed Liu in adminstrative detention for 10 days.

Sleepwalking man saved after jumping from seventh floor

A sleepwalking man in Chongqing jumped out of a window of his seventh-floor apartment, luckily falling onto a balcony awning of an apartment on the fifth floor. The man’s fall woke some of his neighbors, who called the fire department to rescue him.

Fake patrollers use Covid-19 as excuse to steal sheep

A group of criminals pretending to be local law enforcement in Wofotang, Hebei province, told a local villager they needed to take his sheep to “conduct Covid-19 tests” on them. The group of nine people even drove a bogus “police” car. Local authorities are still investigating.


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