Valentine’s Day is likely to be quiet in Wuhan. With everyone confined to their apartment there will be no romantic get-togethers. Chocolate shops, flowers stalls and cinemas will be closed anyhow.
Fear resulting from knowledge that the threat of the coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) is all around them puts Valentine in perspective anyhow.
Besides the danger of infection entering their home, people’s patience will also be stretched after having to live in close proximity with family members for longer than normal. Apartments are small and family members usually spend most of their time outside at school or work. Often the only time they see each other is at meals. Now they have been shut in together since the Chinese New Year. Usually the third day of the New Year was the day when they went out to visit their friend because, it is said, by then tensions within their own house were already strained.
Valentine’s Day has caught on in China in recent years, encouraged (as elsewhere) by the retail and restaurant trade. Offering flowers and chocolates is common. However giving an umbrella or shoes as a present should be avoided. The word san for umbrella can also mean ‘break up’ and giving shoes might indicate you want the person to move on.
Everyone hopes that the virus will move on soon. So far there have been 1,369 deaths, though only two outside China. 5,576 people have recovered. The next few weeks will tell how far it will spread and how long it will last.
Our thoughts are with the people in Wuhan on Valentine’s Day and the weeks ahead.