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Say it with sanitizer: Beijing florist takes on COVID-19 for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day flower sales are down 90 percent, said one Beijing florist.
Image: A florist who prefers to be called Cai Xiaoman wearing a face mask and gloves, puts a bottle of hand sanitizer into a bouquet at a flowers shop in a shopping mall, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing
A florist who prefers to be called Cai Xiaoman wears a mask and gloves at a flower shop in Beijing on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020.Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

It's the eve of Valentine's Day and flower seller Cai Xiaoman is enclosing a special gift — a small bottle of hand sanitizer to ward off COVID-19, the new name for the coronavirus disease — as she sends out her last few bouquets to customers in Beijing.

It has been a tough month for her. Sales are down 90 percent in the midst of an outbreak that has so far killed nearly 1,400 people in China. People are staying at home, leaving shopping malls empty.

Wearing a face mask, Cai carefully sprays her hands with alcohol and puts on a pair of gloves before packaging her flowers. She then puts hand sanitizer into the bouquets she creates.

She says she was inspired by a customer who asked her to sanitize a bouquet before she delivered it. She is now giving sanitizer to other customers as a personal gesture.

"I think this is very heart-warming, and I want my customers to feel comfortable," she says. "Because now the outbreak is severe, and everyone is scared. I hope this will end soon."