The Word from Wuhan 

The world is a frightening and depressing place, but it's not all bad.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, the London Review of Books has Wang Xiuying’s detailed report from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated.

One day we’re told that children are less likely to be infected, the next day that pregnant women and children are more susceptible. One day they say the virus can’t survive outside the body, the next that it can live on hard surfaces for up to five days. One day we learn that the virus is capable of aerosol transmission via coughing or sneezing, the next day we’re told that’s not something to worry about. According to one piece of advice – perhaps issued on the basis that people can’t live on bad news alone – the chances of infection may be reduced by the moderate consumption of alcohol.

In the midst of a nearly endless torrent of bad news, though, there is one amusing tidbit:

Children were presumably glad to be off school – until, that is, an app called DingTalk was introduced. Students are meant to sign in and join their class for online lessons; teachers use the app to set homework. Somehow the little brats worked out that if enough users gave the app a one-star review it would get booted off the App Store. Tens of thousands of reviews flooded in, and DingTalk’s rating plummeted overnight from 4.9 to 1.4. The app has had to beg for mercy on social media: ‘I’m only five years old myself, please don’t kill me.’

Yes, children who were already out of school managed to game the system to get out of their remote schoolwork as well.