The impact of Covid-19

The vulnerable

The impact of Covid-19 on China’s small businesses remains unclear in terms of magnitude, but the vulnerable ones are already closing shop. I already mentioned this topic in earlier posts.
The King of Party, a KTV club in Beijing, said it would terminate employment for all 200 staff (I think one of their major karaoke is in my street gongti xi lu); Xinchao Media, an advertising agency that runs commercials in elevators, said it would cut 500 jobs on Monday; and Xibei Restaurant, a chain with more than 300 stores outlets across the country, said it would be unable to survive for three months without revenue. Those are some of the many only…

China’s private economy contributes more than 60% of the country’s economic output, and creates more than 90% of new jobs. Its health is critical to China’s overall economic performance.

Many shopping malls have reduced their business hours or closed completely, while massages, spa, gyms, karaoke bars and movie theaters have closed to help contain the spread of the virus. Blockbuster movie premieres have been postponed and many performance venues have cancelled shows.

Workers remain productive on home front

As per China Daily on 11 February.
Deserted roads, near-empty subway cars and offices without workers are normally the last scenes you would expect to see in Beijing, especially after the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.
Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, people have been encouraged to stay indoors and many companies have asked their employees to work from home to reduce the risk of being infected.

According to a report from Ding-Talk, internet giant Alibaba’s business collaboration and communication platform, some 200 million people are working from home due to the outbreak. More than 10 million companies in China are using DingTalk to contact such employees. As far as I know Morel’s Restaurant is a happy user of DingTalk to connect with the employees.

The report also said that over 200 education bureaus in more than 20 provinces, including Guangdong, Henan and Shanxi, are using Ding-Talk to launch online courses for over 12 million students from some 20,000 middle and primary schools. To support this unprecedented demand, the company has added more cloud servers to facilitate videoconferences and live group broadcasts.

The coronavirus test

Here a look at a Belgian website: you can do on online test about the coronavirus, set up by VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): or

You can chose between Dutch, French, English, German and Spanish.

After submitting your replies you will get an assessment.


What is your gender? Man    Woman
What is your year of birth?
In which country do you live?
Do you have a fever (38.5 degrees or more)?           Yes  No
Do you have pain when you breathe?           Yes  No
Are you short of breath?         Yes     No
Do you have to cough?          Yes     No
Are you coughing up mucus? Yes     No
Do you have a sore throat?    Yes     No
Do you have a runny nose?   Yes     No
Do you have muscle pain?     Yes     No
Do you take medication that reduces your immunity?           Yes     No
Have you been in China during the 14 days that preceded your complaints?          Yes   No
Did you have close physical contact with someone with a proven corona infection during the 14 days preceding your symptoms?        Yes    No

Tip: runny nose and mucus are not indication of the virus.

Most recent news: while the median incubation time is said to be three days, it could be as long as 24 days and it is making detection much more difficult.

China’s health authorities have decided to no longer count as confirmed cases those patients who test positive but don’t show symptoms. Experts were skeptical, and it was another factor that made it harder to determine the true scale of the epidemic. As reported by NYT and many other media.
The death toll is also said to be seriously underreported as medical staff are not allowed to list coronavirus as a cause of death when cases had not been confirmed. Instructions even bans them from listing “pneumonia”. Instead they have to write the immediate cause of a patient’s death, such as diabetes or organ failure. Another known issue is with the difficulty in getting some patients to hospital in time. Some pass away at home because they could not reach the hospitals in time. In all those cases it’s “not the coronavirus”…

Humor is alive

As one friend said, 1 April arrived early. I was also (happily) misled with the “news”.

One Wechat post explained that according to NASA 11 February was the only day of the year when a broom can stand up because of earth’s gravity. Many Chinese friends were posting pics of their brooms standing up, I thought (as a “clever engineer”) that it was not possible.

Then I tried myself and became all excited. A friend said, the brooms would fall down after 59 minutes. I went to check regularly and the brooms remained upright.

The next morning they were still in place.

Then a clever French Rotaractor broke the news:
The truth is, you can make a broom stand upright today… and tomorrow and the day after… and the day after that. It has nothing to do with the earth’s gravitational pull on a certain day. It also has nothing to do with the vernal equinox (another day of the year when this “magic” supposedly happens).
Instead, it has everything to do with balance. The center of gravity is low on a broom, and rests directly over the bristles. Which means, if you can get the bristles positioned like a tripod, your broom will stand upright any day of the year.
Hey! It was fun!

There are also some pretty hilarious video clips going around of people singing about the virus.
This one is my favorite:


(click to play)

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