China's big New Year TV gala salutes coronavirus medics, space heroes

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's state television paid tribute to frontline healthcare workers who battled the coronavirus and those involved in the country's burgeoning space programme on Thursday, as its annual Spring Festival gala ushered in the Lunar New Year. The four-hour bonanza on CCTV - which typically draws an audience of hundreds of millions - featured a mix of sketches, music and dance, including appearances by actor Jackie Chan and virtual popstar Luo Tianyi, before its hosts counted down to midnight and the start of the Year of the Ox. One key segment was a sketch set in a coronavirus lockdown, with residents of an apartment block chatting from their balconies and a drone delivering food.

Reuters February 12, 2021 00:10:13 IST
China's big New Year TV gala salutes coronavirus medics, space heroes

coronavirus medics, space heroes" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/02-2021/12/2021-02-11T172850Z_1_LYNXMPEH1A1GZ_RTROPTP_2_LUNAR-NEWYEAR-CHINA-GALA.jpg" alt="Chinas big New Year TV gala salutes coronavirus medics space heroes" width="300" height="225" />

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's state television paid tribute to frontline healthcare workers who battled the coronavirus and those involved in the country's burgeoning space programme on Thursday, as its annual Spring Festival gala ushered in the Lunar New Year.

The four-hour bonanza on CCTV - which typically draws an audience of hundreds of millions - featured a mix of sketches, music and dance, including appearances by actor Jackie Chan and virtual popstar Luo Tianyi, before its hosts counted down to midnight and the start of the Year of the Ox.

One key segment was a sketch set in a coronavirus lockdown, with residents of an apartment block chatting from their balconies and a drone delivering food.

At the end of the sketch, the residents celebrate as they receive word their city will reopen on April 8 - the date a stringent 76-day lockdown in virus epicentre Wuhan was lifted last year.

A video wall then showed real-life images of Wuhan, medical professionals and other workers, set to dramatic music, before performers - including Hong Kong film star Chan - belted out a song titled "Tomorrow Will Be Better" in tribute to those who helped fight the virus.

Speaking before a live audience who wore ox-emblazoned masks, gala hosts Ren Luyu and Li Sisi noted many people had been unable to return home this year for China's biggest holiday.

The government has scaled back transport during the peak travel season, seeking to reduce the risk of a resurgence in infections.

As it waved goodbye to the Year of the Rat, China has largely brought the virus under control: the two new cases on Wednesday were the fewest in five months. Offficial data show COVID-19 has killed 4,636 people in China.

Another part of the show, set against an array of galactic backdrops, introduced four chief designers from China's space programme, including a member of the Tianwen-1 mission whose probe entered the orbit of Mars on Wednesday.

In December, a separate mission saw China retrieve the first samples from the moon since the 1970s.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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