Chinese citizens are finding interesting ways to occupy their time under quarantine amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
On January 23, authorities in Wuhan, China, shut down the city’s public transportation, including buses, trains, ferries, and the airport. Quarantine orders were extended to 15 other cities soon after, leaving about 50 million people on lockdown.
Stories have emerged from these cities of overcrowded hospitals and empty supermarket shelves. As of Friday, the virus had killed more than 630 people and infected nearly 31,000, mostly in China.
At least 73 airlines canceled flights to China amid fears of spreading the virus, leaving many people stranded.
Some residents in Wuhan and other cities on lockdown are coping with the grim circumstances through humor.
According to What’s on Weibo, an independent news site that monitors social trends in China, memes and videos making light of the deadly viral outbreak began spreading on Chinese social media from late January.
Manya Koetse, the editor-in-chief at What’s on Weibo, posted several examples of the comedic content circulating the Chinese web under lockdown.
Some people poked fun at the lack of medical masks used to prevent the spread of the illness by posting alternative protective gear, including inflatable costumes.
—Manya Koetse (@manyapan) February 6, 2020
Videos and photos showed people using sanitary pads, bras, and even fruit to protect their faces from the spread of disease.
—Manya Koetse (@manyapan) February 2, 2020
Other users posted videos illustrating the lack of activity in the streets of their cities.
—Manya Koetse (@manyapan) January 27, 2020
One photo that went viral on WeChat purported to show grocery-store shelves in Beijing stocking condoms rendered empty as residents found ways to pass the time.
—Manya Koetse (@manyapan) January 28, 2020
According to the South China Morning Post, users of the Chinese social-media messaging app WeChat created a group of about 200 users dedicated to those looking for love under lockdown.
“The majority of the Chinese population are now staying at home with no work to do and no banquets or gatherings to go to,” Kecheng Fang, an assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Communication of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the Morning Post. “I think that’s an important factor driving the circulation of humorous posts.”