Chinese families have taken to wearing water bottles on their heads to avoid contracting the deadly new coronavirus strain.
Photos have emerged on social media of men, women and children walking through major airports with the large water bottles covering their faces.
Some images appear to have been taken in China and Hong Kong, while others have been photographed in Vancouver, Canada.
Canada identified its first case of coronavirus last week.
One man, who saw a woman wearing a bottle at Vancouver’s airport, tweeted, “I thought I had seen it all”.
Why are people wearing bottles on their heads?
A lack of medical supplies for Chinese doctors and medical staff is initially believed to be the driving force behind the unusual trend that appears to have since been adopted by residents.
A volunteer at hospitals in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated from, said medical staff began falling ill while treating sick patients in early January and raised the alarm with the government.
But a sluggish response meant medical staff went without proper protection for weeks and had to resort to alternatives.
— Sean (@seanglavin) January 28, 2020
Even now, some medical staff are using garbage bags and cut-up water bottles as makeshift gowns and masks, the volunteer said.
“When we first discovered it could be transmitted between people, our hospital head, chairman, medical affairs department, they sat and made endless calls to the city government, the health commission,” one nurse, who fell ill and was put in isolation, wrote in messages shared by the volunteer.
“They said we still can’t wear protective clothing, because it might stir up panic.”
While the volunteer’s explanation makes sense - it doesn’t fully explain why others, who presumably aren’t medical professionals, are wearing them in public. They also appear to be wearing additional face masks underneath the plastic bottles.
In any case, social media users have joked it’s probably just an extra precaution.
— KAMI (@KAMIcomphnews) January 27, 2020
Beijing-based lawyer Chen Qiushi recently Tweeted an image of a man wearing a mask and water bottle at Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital.
BBC journalist Edward Lawrence shared a photo on social media of a woman with a plastic bag over her head.
“This woman is taking protection to the next level. She’s wearing a plastic bag over her head. Save yourself from the virus perhaps, but risk suffocation in the process,” he tweeted.
Philippino news site Kami shared video on Twitter of a group of people playing mahjong with bags over their heads.
“When Mahjong is life but coronavirus is trending,” it captioned the image.
A man was also pictured wearing a motorcycle helmet on a China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Perth, 7News reported.
Passenger Marina Jambrina told The West Australian when she was at the airport in Shanghai she “did not see anyone in the airport without a mask”.
Seventh coronavirus case confirmed in Australia
Health officials on Wednesday night confirmed a Chinese man from Wuhan became the seventh person to be diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the man, 44, is currently in Gold Coast University Hospital.
It is the first confirmed case in Queensland - following four in NSW and two in Victoria.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Victorian man became the sixth Australian diagnosed with coronavirus.
Victoria's Chief Health Officer Dr Brett Sutton said the man in his 60s fell ill last Thursday.
Dr Sutton added the man’s friends and family have also been tested for the virus.
He said the man “was mostly at home and had isolated himself” when he became sick but he did go to the House of Delight restaurant in Melbourne’s suburb of Glen Waverley “for a short period of time”.
- with AAP
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