Coronavirus: Outrage over pregnant nurse 'propaganda' in China

Chinese state media has been criticised for trying to portray a nine-months' pregnant woman working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak as a hero.

CCTV last week broadcast a segment about Zhao Yu, who works at a military hospital in Wuhan, where the virus emerged. 

BBC News reports the clip - which has since been withdrawn from CCTV's website - showed the mum-to-be wearing a hazmat suit and testing patients for the disease, which has killed more than 2200 people in the past few weeks. 

One patient tells her she shouldn't be working, and Zhao Yu even admits her family wants her to stop, but she insists on doing her part.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said CCTV described her as a "a great mother and angel in a white gown".

Zhao Yu
Zhao Yu says she's just doing her part. Photo credit: CCTV

But even in heavily-censored China, people took to social media to express outrage.

"I'm angry. Shouldn't a woman who's nine months' pregnant be at home?" said one person, quoted by the Post. "She's in such thick protective clothes and it's hard for her to even move around. Can that be good for her baby."

"Can we stop all this propaganda?" asked another. "Who made the decision that this video was okay? Pregnant women should not be [on the frontlines]."

"I really think that this message... Blindly advocating women to fight on the frontlines regardless of their health... it's really sick," added a third. 

Another Chinese state report focused on a Wuhan Central Hospital employee who'd suffered a miscarriage just 10 days before returning to work as the outbreak worsened. The report said she quickly adapted to the additional workload.

"Hospitals should not be allowing a nurse who is nine months' pregnant - or the one who'd had a miscarriage - work," Guangzhou-based feminist writer Hou Hongbin told the Post

"Their immune systems are weakened, and it’s highly possible that they will be infected with the virus themselves." 

There have now been more than 76,000 confirmed cases of the virus, called COVID-19, worldwide.


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