This touching footage – seen 120 million times online in just 24 hours – shows two married Chinese medics in hazmat suits seeing each other for the first time in three weeks but forced to shake hands instead of hugging.
The brief reunion was captured on camera in the corridors of Xi’an Eight Hospital in the capital of Shaanxi Province in north-western China on 14th February.
Doctor Ren Ruikang and his wife Xiao Jiawei, a nurse, had not seen one another for three weeks before the surprise meeting on Valentine’s Day.
The couple, who married in 2018, were called back to duty on 25th January as the Wuhan coronavirus – now officially known as COVID-19 – surged in China.
The deadly respiratory disease has now killed 2,006 in mainland China and six others in Asia, while globally nearly 75,300 cases have been confirmed.
Mr Ren and Ms Xiao, who are both in their 20s, were sent to different stations.
Ms Xiao, whose mum and dad are also front-line medics in the same hospital, was assigned to quarantine zone 1, while her husband was sent to a special isolation zone.
Mr Ren was eventually sent into quarantine zone 1 for disinfection work, and he briefly met his wife on the third day.
Footage of their corridor meeting shows Mr Ren surprising his wife by tapping her on the shoulder.
The excited nurse tries repeatedly to hug her spouse, but he pushes her away in order to avoid contact, and the pair settle for a handshake.
The short reunion ends with Mr Ren patting his wife on the head before going back to work.
The doctor told local media: “When I got there, she was busy doing something, so I surprised her while my colleague filmed.
“She was indeed very surprised when she saw me, and she wanted to give me a hug.
“But because of hygiene reasons, I couldn’t let her, so we shook hands in the end.”
Ms Xiao revealed that her father is a medical laboratory scientist, while her mum is a nurse.
She said: “I grew up at Xi’an Eighth Hospital. All the medics here watched me grow up.”
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