In what may be the most romantic gesture so far during the coronavirus outbreak in China, a delivery driver celebrated his wedding anniversary outside a hospital by holding up a giant card for his wife, an intensive care nurse.
Zhang Jiapeng, 25, came up with the idea after his wife was assigned to a fever clinic in Weinan, in the northeastern province of Shaanxi, last month when the pneumonia-like illness broke out and spread from central Hubei province.
Emergency measures quickly followed, and Shaanxi province – like many authorities – went on high alert on January 25. Since then, people have been encouraged to stay at home and avoid public places, while Zhang’s wife works in the hospital and goes into quarantine after her shift.
Zhang and his colleagues have also been unusually busy – with shops and restaurants closed, people have turned to online shopping services for groceries and other supplies.
As a courier for JD.com, Zhang said he was delivering far more parcels than he typically would during his daily shift, which starts at 7.30am. Mounting orders meant he sometimes has had to work as late as 10pm.
“I haven’t seen my wife for a fortnight,” Zhang said. “All we can do is to send messages, call each other, and sometimes play online games together.”
The couple married two years ago and this year was to have been their first Valentine’s Day together.
“I worked [away from home] before, so [this year] we made plans to travel to Xian for a trip for Valentine’s Day,” Zhang said.
But when their plans were disrupted, Zhang said, he came up with something creative.
On Monday, three days before their anniversary, Zhang took a short break and drove his bike to the hospital, where he held up a message that read: “Happy second anniversary. Hope you can come home soon.”
His wife, dressed in protective suit, watched from afar.
“All I want is [for the outbreak] to be gone as soon as possible so that we can be with our families,” Zhang said.
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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.