A man wearing a face mask waits for a train at a nearly empty subway station in Beijing. (AP Photo: Mark Schiefelbein)
The novel coronavirus, which has now spread to every region of China and more than 20 other countries, was Thursday declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). The death toll due to the virus rose to 213 Friday, with the number of confirmed cases exceeding 9,000, China’s health authorities confirmed.
Several countries are scrambling to evacuate their nationals from China, and in particular Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. The city of 11 million is in lockdown as authorities try to contain the virus.
In fact, several cities in China, including its capital Beijing and financial capital Shanghai, resemble ghost towns. Very few people seem to be taking the risk of leaving their homes for fear of being infected by the virus.
Schools, offices, restaurants and cinemas remain closed to keep people from gathering. Social media users are telling stories of empty streets and isolated public areas.
An empty metro in Beijing. (AP Photo: Mark Schiefelbein)
Falling on Chinese New Year, the unprecedented situation also has social media users desperately trying to entertain themselves.
Creativity — and boredom — is at its highest, as videos show people killing time at home. One video shows a man counting rice, while another shows how a woman made her house a carnival for her children. In another video, neighbours are seen catching up on the roof.
Here are some tweets where users have posted photos and videos of how empty the streets are
Walking around one of Beijing’s most popular streets and malls during dinner time... and it’s nearly completely empty amid escalating fears of the #CoronavirusOutbreak. Even Starbucks and KFC are closed. @QuickTake pic.twitter.com/OzPD7O0LC1
— Selina Wang (@selinawangtv) January 29, 2020
An empty subway station in Beijing at peak afternoon hours
— 🤦🏻♂️ (@kinkumpoop) January 28, 2020
What an empty mall looks like in China
— Le French Mulu (@le_french_mulu) January 29, 2020
Manya Koetse also had a suggestion of how to kill time if you are amid the lockdown in China...
How to survive staying indoors during #coronavirus lockdown according to these very important videos making their rounds on Chinese social media. Firstly: don't be afraid to express your feelings and get in touch with your emotions. pic.twitter.com/xd8yj73dtx
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) January 27, 2020
China's Global Times and South China Morning Post also published videos on how to kill time if you are stuck at home
How do Chinese people kill time at home amid the coronavirus outbreak? Due to the #coronavirus outbreak, #SpringFestival vacation has been extended. Chinese people, bored from being stuck at home, are killing time in amusing ways. pic.twitter.com/sOYKZmFLAF
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 30, 2020
From beauty regimens to homemade carnival games, residents stuck at home found ways to entertain themselves amid the coronavirus lockdown pic.twitter.com/rTFfRAsEjM
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) January 30, 2020
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