Wuhan dance
Patients dance inside the Wuhan Parlor Convention Center that has been converted into a makeshift hospital following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China February 15, 2020. Picture taken February 15, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Residents of Wuhan (population: about 11 million) and those living in other Chinese cities sealed off (total: 48 cities) amidst the coronavirus scare have found a way around the nowhere-to-go, mind-numbing uncertainty.

For weeks now, residents of the entire Hubei province, with 60 million inhabitants, are confined to their homes "until further notice". A Reuters report states up to 500 million people in China — larger than the entire US population — had been sealed off in their cities.  


total known Covid-19 infections in Chinese mainland as of Monday, February 17, 2020

As the dreaded Covid-19 spreads around the world, killing 1,770 (mostly in China), sickening more than 70,000 people, and with no vaccine yet in sight, many families in the worst-hit areas wait an uncertain future.

But survival hormone cannot be denied: The urge to make social connections amidst shared suffering, cannot be bottled up. To deal with crushing, soul-vexing boredom, many Chinese in locked-down cities and provinces have found novel ways to entertain themselves.

Rays of hope: 6,639 recovered

In the midst of draconian curbs, there’s bit of good news: New confirmed cases of Covid19 in the mainland outside Hubei have dropped for 13 consecutive days, from 890 on February 3 to 115 on February 16, according to China's National Health Commission.

A police officer takes the temperature of a driver at a checkpoint on a street on the outskirts of Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 27, 2020, amid a deadly virus outbreak which began in the city. China on January 27 extended its biggest national holiday to buy time in the fight against a viral epidemic and neighbouring Mongolia closed its border, after the death toll spiked to 81 despite unprecedented quarantine measures. Image Credit: AFP

Another ray of hope: 6,639 people who had been quarantined and treated had already reportedly recovered.

And still another: plasma from the blood of patients who recovered are being used to treat the severely ill, who have survived and then shown signs of improvement.

Could this lead eventually to a Covid19 vaccine?

It's still too early to say. But hope springs eternal as long as we live.


number of people discharged from hospital in Wuhan after being taken in for coronavirus infection (36% of 10,844 discharged worldwide)

Still, for many facing an open timeline to uncertainty, there are stark numbers to deal with.

Medical workers in protective suits help transfer a group of patients into the newly-completed Huoshenshan temporary field hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Image Credit: AP

The numbers (as of Monday) in Hubei:


confirmed Covid19 infection cases (79% of 70,548 total known infections in Chinese mainland)
  • 58,182 confirmed cases in Wuhan (79% of 70,548 total known infections in Chinese mainland)
  • 1,696 deaths (95% of 1,770 total deaths in mainland and worldwide)
  • 6,639 discharged from hospital (36% of 10,844 discharged worldwide)

How citizens entertain themselves

Yet, millions of residents have somehow found novel ways around an unprecendented lifestyle in confinement.

1. Marathon in my living room

Pan Shancu, a Chinese amateur marathon runner under lockdown, is unstoppable. He keeps active and running a full 42-km (31 miles) course around two tables — in his living room.

The Chinese medicine health therapist from Hangzhou, managed to complete 6,250 laps around his apartment in just under five hours, according to a South China Morning Post report.

Indoor marathon
Pan Shancu's indoor endurance feat, covering an equivalent of 42-km full marathon, took him four hours and 48 minutes. Image Credit: DailyMail/Asia Wire
At least 48 cities and four provinces in China have issued official notices for lockdown policies as of Saturday, February 15.

Around 500 million people in China are currently affected by policies put in place restricting movement, to contain the Covid19 coronavirus — bigger than the entire population of the US.

The dreaded Covid19 has killed 1,770 (mostly in China) as of Monday (February 17), and infected more than 70,000 people, according to official figures.

There's no vaccine yet in sight, but there are hopes of therapy using platelets of recovered patients on the worst-hit patients.

A post, which went viral on Weibo, shows a video of himself running, while Pan says: "I have not been outside for many days, today I cannot bear sitting down anymore! Let's run laps around the two massage tables in the room, then!" To prove his feat, Shancu added screenshots of his running app results, writing: "Yes, one lap is about 8 meters (26ft) — I ran 50km (31 miles), and did it in 4:48:44, sweated all over, feels great!"

2. Square dancing

Meanwhile, Chinese social media has been flooded with videos of citizens who have found ways of entertaining themselves. A group has gone "square dancing" or re-enacting Chinese operas.

A square dance is a dance for four couples (eight dancers in total) arranged in a square, with one couple on each side, facing the middle of the square. Square dances were first documented in 16th-century England but were also quite common in France and throughout Europe.


deaths (95% of 1,770 total deaths in mainland and worldwide)

3. Boiling money

A Twitter post shows a Wuhan shop-keeper allowed to operate a food delivery business. He is seen disinfecting wads of cash by boiling it in water, as a way preventing exposure from the virus.

4. Rescuing cats, playing hide-and-seek with them

Wuhan resident Wu has joined in, posting daily videos to TikTok of life under quarantine. In one of his videos, Wu plays hide and seek with his cat.

5. Jumping water challenge

To while away their time, the Chinese have taken to the latest social media craze. One is “Jumping Water Challenge: The Next Level”.

It involves someone jumping over two buckets (or wash basins), elevated and placed next to each other, and filled with water.

The challenge is for the jumper to slightly touch the water surface enough to make a splash, but without tripping or overturning the buckets. The whole thing, which runs just a few seconds, is then document on the slow-motion video and posted on social media.

6. Push-ups, practice handwriting

To keep themselves fit, many have resorted to doing pushups in their confinement, after endless hours watching TV. and to pass the time, others have gone into practicing handwriting.

"I wish the government had taken control of the situation earlier. If that were the case, maybe the epidemic wouldn't have lasted this long," Wu, a resident said.

"But I trust the doctors, the nurses and the scientists. I believe the epidemic will pass."

7. Chanting, singing patriotic songs

Amidst the growing adversity, man's necessity for socialisation persists among Wuhan residents. On many nights, the city echoes with sounds of spine-tingling chant "Wuhan, Jiayou", which roughly translated (Wuhan, you can do it!).

It's a strangely beautiful, heartwarming gesture, city residents keep their spirits alive — by chanting slogans from the high-rise balconies and. The city also also echoed with patriotic songs in a spontaneous wave of mutual encouragement.

Tighter lockdown

The lockdown, however, has reportedly been tightened. Social media posts show ordinary, desperate Chinese residents speaking up — including one woman emboldened to remove her face mask — on social media, threby risking being invited by the local police.

After a local leadership change in Hubei, the sharper lockdown means people cannot walk on the street without hospital or community pass. People caught violating the rule will be sent to stadium for 14-day quarantine at his/her own expense at 50RMB ($7.16) per day, according to one social media post.

A glimpse of the life of frontline medical workers

Frontline medical workers, though, don’t have much time on their hands. Overworked and exposed to the virus, they are seen as heroes. The fight against the novel coronavirus is long and winding. Until an effective vaccine or antidote is found, a logical ending for most medical workers remain uncertain.

The virus has knocked down lives, and locked down cities but not the telecom services. Social media posts showing the faces of doctors and nurses — with marks of face masks and suits showing on the faces — have moved millions netizens in China.

Army medical team

People’s Liberation Army medical workers are working hard to help fight the virus.

On Monday, another batch of 1,200 PLA medical workers arrived in Wuhan. A total of 2,600 military medics have been in the city to support the fight against Covid19.

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