Lack of hygiene awareness


  • Colours of China
  • Monday, 10 Feb 2020

No letting up: Subway workers cleaning and disinfecting glass door panels on a platform at a subway station in Shanghai, China. The country is stepping up efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus with a series of relief measures for companies directly engaged in the fight against the respiratory illness.

WHILE many people zero in on those who eat wild animals for the novel coronavirus outbreak, I beg to differ. I would blame it on the lack of hygiene awareness among the Chinese, which I dare say is one big problem.

Although some workers have returned to work since last Friday, many companies are observing the flexible working hours or have their employees working from home.

The banks open two or three days a week for counter-related or self-serving machine services.

Schools and educational institutions remain closed.

A majority are still in “self quarantine” as part of the precautionary measures against the spread of the virus.

This quarantine would not have happened if the people practise good hygiene.

The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak 17 years ago that claimed hundreds of lives has not changed their bad habits.

Spitting is one bad habit of the Chinese that annoys me the most, not just the disgusting mucus on the floor but also the loud irritating throat-clearing sound.

I have always wondered why must they “tell the whole world” in doing so.

If you happen to be in Beijing, check out the streets, especially the entrance or exit of subway stations, and you will see patches of dark spots. I can bet these are dried mucus already mixed with dust and dirt.

Coughing or sneezing without covering one’s mouth is common in public areas and restaurants, and all these bad habits contributed to the spread of the virus.

The community parks where I live are full of people playing card games or chit-chatting on the weekends.

One day I walked over to one park, hoping to make friends and play cards.

The moment I got there, I turned back – the foul smell of urine filled the air.

I have seen young people in their 20s and 30s, as well as bus drivers, doing their business by the side of busy roads, and it is very common to see mothers carrying their toddlers to urinate in the bins or drains outside the shopping malls.

The two-session Chinese parliament meeting is scheduled to be held next month and I will like to see them coming out with stricter laws in maintaining public hygiene.

Laws against spitting and urinating in public must be enforced if Beijing wants to be become metropolitan.

The Chinese have stayed home for over two weeks since the government took drastic measures in battling the fast-spreading virus following the lockdown of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak. And this is driving them crazy.

Some of them turn their homes into fun fairs, setting up their own balloon dart booth, as well as have ball throwing and ring tossing games.

They also fish in their home aquarium, do make-up for their pet dogs and cats, play snooker with grapes and chopsticks, teach their pets to read and do Mathematics and name every item in the house.

To further kill their boredom, some start counting the number of people walking in and out of their apartments, the total number of bathroom and kitchen tiles as well as the number of peanuts, raisins or red beans contain in a packet.

Meanwhile, yewei (wild meat) and cononavirus are among the most popular words on the Baidu search engine since the outbreak.

New articles on yewei that appear on its search engine in a week were equivalent to what it had for the past 10 years.

Most of the posts were related to the danger of eating wild meat, the type of animals served and bats were virus carriers.

Over 50 million people read articles on the danger of eating wild animals, the big data report on the novel coronavirus revealed.

Before this, more people were keen to find out the breeding methods of civets, bamboo rats, wild boars and scorpions.

“Humans have always confined animals in cages and now, the animals locked up more than a billion people in retaliation.”

This is one of the popular posts circulating on social media.

In the eyes of some Chinese, every creature with the back facing up could be turned into delicacies on the dining table, but I must say this group is small.

The big data report, conducted by Baidu and research centre people.cn from Jan 20-30, revealed that more than one billion people looked up for virus-related issues on the search engine daily.

They were seeking information on the development of the outbreak, Wuhan lockdown, progress of the research on a vaccine, face mask-related topic and the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan – a new 1,000-bed makeshift hospital built in 10 days to contain the outbreak.

Netizens also read previous news on the SARS outbreak that was brought under control.

They also sought answers for the myths and rumours circulating online such as taking a hot bath could prevent one from infection or the virus could spread by touching bank notes.

Most search engine users were from Wuhan, followed by Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hangzhou.

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