Life with Covid19: Viewing viral videos

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People wait in a queue to get temperature check before entering a bank in Beijing, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. For most, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for a few, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

“Is this true?”

The question comes after another viral video.This time the video is of people cutting off the flesh of what looks like human corpses. One cannot see who is doing the cutting though but I am asked to verify this. 

The video is sent as a sequel to a previous meme telling of how Chinese people are using the flesh of the corpses of their dead, killed by Covid 19, to make corned beef.  “Stay away from corn beefed!”, the meme implored.

“Do you think it’s true?”, is my response.

The person leaves me blue ticked; does not reply. “Of course, you don’t think it’s true!” I think to myself. What sane person would think it’s true? Would sane Chinese people really desecrate their dead and sell the meat off as tinned corned beef? You must be insane to think it’s true.

“Oh,” comes the reply back a few days later, “apparently it’s an old video. People disposing of the corpses to feed the vultures.” 

“A bit more plausible”, I think to myself. “But still not quite!”

The one thing that must be spreading faster than the virus itself, in the last few weeks, must be all the fake news about the virus. Even worse, from cities in the United States to some of the communities in our own country, racism and prejudice against Chinese people, and for a matter most east Asians, have increased. 

I remember my first few weeks in Beijing when I was corrected that the guys living down my corridor were in fact Koreans or Malaysians and not, as I thought, Chinese. “They all look the same and so they must be Chinese”, my warped western influenced mind told me. But they were not!

Next video. A South African telling fellow, poor South Africans that the corona virus was a “rich person’s virus.” You could only get it if you were “traveling to Italy in March” or, I suppose, being staying in China. 

What utter ignorance. This virus is pretty serious. But sadly, the lives of the poor are not. It is true that hundreds of thousands of people die from the ordinary flu annually. Poor people. 

People who do not have access to basic healthcare, with immune systems that are weak because of poor nutrition and given that lack of municipal services are often in poor areas they do not live in very hygienic conditions either. 

This reminds me, I must wash my hands. Regular hand washing with soap is important. It has been encouraged worldwide. Yet again, in South Africa, we have to be a bit more responsible than the rest of the world because we have a water shortage crisis so we have to use the same soap water to wash our hands. 

Yes, we can join in the fun and laugh at the masks memes being sent around. Challenge is that that is often where it ends, as a joke. The person invariably doesn’t wear a mask.

It reminds me of taking a bus during winter and the winter months are coming. The windows of the bus are often misted up because people do not want the window to be open. They prefer inhaling each other’s recycled germs than getting in a bit of fresh, cold air. 

Go, wash your hands, I think to myself while checking out the next viral video. 

What a pun that viral is.


Wesley Seale is currently a resident in Beijing. He is a PhD candidate in international relations and diplomacy.