Virus mutates in truly unexpected ways

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 10 Feb 2020

The virus has mutated! Scientists have identified four new strains (or so I hear from humor-minded readers). Watch for symptoms:

MORONAVIRUS: 1) You refuse to leave your house despite living 1,000 kilometers from Wuhan; 2) You wear condoms on your fingers; 3) You spend the next two months' food money on 400 rolls of toilet paper.

Main areas of contagion: Hong Kong and Singapore.

CRONYVIRUS: 1) Instead of queuing, you get masks from friends; 2) The virus (like everything else) makes you think of "business opportunities"; 3) You phone Wuhan tycoons to offer your spare room.

Main area of contagion: China.

MACRONAVIRUS: 1) You imagine you are the President of France; 2) You get the urge to battle unions; 3) You're driven to buy high-heels.

Main area of contagion: Paris.

ACRONYMOVIRUS: 1) You work for the United Nations; 2) Your dog is called WHO IBRD ILO; 3) So is your daughter.

Main area of contagion: Geneva.

* * *

Not everyone was miserable after toilet paper shelves in Hong Kong supermarkets were emptied. Reader Andrew Simon said: "My Japanese toilet has never been so appreciated."

* * *

Staff at the Chinese consulate in George Town, Malaysia, found three boxes placed outside their building last week, and called police to take a look, I heard from reader Everett Yeoh. Officers thought the boxes looked suspicious and got the bomb squad to blow them up. Only when the dust cleared did people realize what was inside: large numbers of N95 surgical masks, donated by kind citizens to be sent to Wuhan.

* * *

Staying with Malaysia, that country's press recently "translated" the name of the rapper known as 50 Cent, I heard from reader Alicia Kang, who sent this picture. He becomes RM (ringgit) 1.50.

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There's an interesting debate going on around Hong Kong's politically "yellow" [anti-China] restaurants, such as Hunghom's Tenno Ramen, which openly refuse to serve mainlanders, I heard from reader Zoe Sun. Since Hongkongers and mainlanders are the same ethnicity, it is technically not racism - but it really feels like it.

Even the politicians loved by the US media don't hide their hostility to mainlanders. When in 2014 China reacted to protests by threatening to cut the number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong, Joshua Wong sneered in a tweet: "You call that a punishment?"

* * *

If the virus gets worse in Hong Kong, reader Peter Fredenburg has a rather cruel idea he thinks some people in this city will like: "The government should make masks mandatory so black-shirts will refuse to wear them and die."

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Doctors are furious at news reports which say things like "Thousands of Hong Kong doctors, nurses and hospital employees" joined the recent strike. More than 90 percent of doctors didn't stop work. "The majority of strikers are physios, ancillary staff, and nursing staff, but even their numbers are small," said a reader."My husband, a doctor in a public hospital, is working seven days a week, no days off, and not coming home."

* * *

Rob Walsh tried to imagine what would happen if the US government tried to quarantine an entire city. "They'd have everyone holding a gun demanding they be allowed to leave," he said.

* * *

The coronavirus may be actually saving lives in China, added reader Anant Deboor. "Normally, 780 people die in road accidents every day," he said. "Now there's almost zero traffic."

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