Dragon dancers celebrate in Manila, Philippines, on Jan. 25. Photo: Jes Aznar/Getty Images
Over 1.5 billion people globally are celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday and into the weekend, USA Today reports, as participants honor ancestors, exchange gifts of good fortune, and toast to abundance.
The backdrop: Amid the celebrations, major Chinese cities Beijing and quarantined Wuhan are banned from large gatherings and travel that are ubiquitous with the holiday, due to the growing coronavirus crisis.
China is locking down at least three cities with a combined population of over 18 million, Hong Kong has closed all of its schools for two weeks, and Wuhan has reportedly banned the use of cars in downtown areas.
Across China and other countries with some of the highest confirmed cases of the coronavirus, people celebrated Valentine's Day as they would any other year: buying flowers and other gifts, attending weddings and spending time with loved ones.
Where it stands: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,527 people and in mainland China infected nearly 66,497 people, a number the CDC believes is underreported. There are more than 500 cases in 27 other countries and territories.
Vigils were held Friday in Hong Kong and Wuhan to mourn Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital who sounded the alarm on the coronavirus, for which Chinese authorities attempted to silence him. Wenliang reportedly died this week after contracting the virus.
The big picture, per the New York Times' Li Yuan: "For many people in China, the doctor’s death shook loose pent-up anger and frustration at how the government mishandled the situation by not sharing information earlier and by silencing whistle-blowers."