SINGAPORE - Never mind the ingots, carps and auspicious red lanterns.
In the light of the coronavirus outbreak originating from Wuhan, the star of festive greetings this Chinese New Year is the surgical mask.
An image of a decorative rat donning a surgical mask, for example, went viral on Chinese social media, while a similar WhatsApp sticker of local cartoon character Ang Ku Kueh Girl is making its rounds among Singaporeans.
The sticker, an add-on to Ang Ku Kueh Girl and Friend's latest Chinese New Year sticker pack, was released on the eve (Jan 24) of the festival, shortly after the team heard news of the first coronavirus case confirmed in Singapore.
"Suddenly the issue felt closer to home," said founder of the label Wang Shijia, 43. "Many are afraid, so we hope the sticker serves as a light-hearted reminder to stay safe and wear a mask if you are feeling unwell."
If laughter is the best medicine, netizens are also staving off illness by joking about how surgical masks are now a prized commodity.
Memes featuring the masks being used instead of cash in hongbao and mahjong games are popular, even as the 15 days of Chinese New Year draw to a close this Saturday (Feb 8).
Our new year wish, the pictures say, is for health rather than wealth.
While most Chinese residents are spending the holidays confined to their homes, they are rallying together online, sharing creative ways to kill time while indoors.
These include fishing from their living room tanks, playing table tennis on coffee tables or breaking out into impromptu lion dances.
Others improvise games of ring toss with grocery baskets and wine bottles, among various household items.
In an attempt to lift one another's spirits, they are also "making celebrities" of the cement trucks and forklifts in the race against time to build two new emergency hospitals in Wuhan.
Live-streams of the construction on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) have proven to be an unlikely hit, drawing tens of millions of viewers.
In the comments section, self-appointed "online overseers" bestow nicknames upon the machinery to cheer them on.https://twitter.com/Jane_Li911/status/1222385339542589441 https://twitter.com/Jane_Li911/status/1222442332588371968
Cement mixers and electric welders, for example, have been christened "Song Huizong" and "Han Wudi" after ancient Chinese emperors.
Especially popular are the small but mighty forklifts, affectionately referred to as "folkchan".
The yellow vehicle's fan page has been viewed around 150 million times on Sina Weibo, where some supporters have even created fan art.
One user wrote: "Let's guard the most adorable and hardworking little forklift in the world!" alongside a widely circulated photograph of the forklift.
Another illustration shows civilians with their keyboards, holding up a pyramid of construction workers, machinery and healthcare professionals. Beneath are the words: "While you battle on the front line, I have got your back."