How Hong Kong beat coronavirus and prevented lockdown

How Hong Kong beat coronavirus and prevented lockdown

When Apple closed its retail shops across the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic, a handful of shops had been exempt, together with its six places in Hong Kong.

In reality, a lot of Hong Kong has felt comparatively regular this 12 months in contrast with its friends, which enacted strict lockdown measures.

Since its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on Jan. 22, Hong Kong went by phased closures of presidency places of work, faculties, gyms and bars. However different companies had been comparatively unaffected, together with dine-in service at eating places, retailers, malls, and trains.

Right this moment, workplace staff are again to enterprise and the town has reopened its gyms and even nightclubs.

By all accounts, Hong Kong’s scenario may have been dangerous. It is one of many world’s densest cities. Public transit is commonly packed. There are even direct flights and trains from Wuhan, the Chinese language metropolis the place Covid-19 first emerged late final 12 months. In reality, greater than 2.5 million individuals arrived from mainland China in January alone.

With a inhabitants of seven.5 million individuals, Hong Kong has recorded round 1,200 instances. Singapore, by comparability has had greater than 43,000 instances, amid an outbreak in migrant employee housing. That brought on the city-state to enact lockdown measures for greater than two months.

In distinction, Hong Kong had consecutive weeks of zero new instances.

Hong Kong managed to keep away from a lockdown whereas containing — and to a big extent — eliminating Covid-19.

Here is 5 the reason why Hong Kong managed to keep away from lockdown whereas defeating Covid-19:

1. Expertise

Many individuals in Hong Kong bear in mind dwelling by the extreme acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.

“We had by no means skilled one thing like that at the moment,” Leah Choi advised CNBC recalling her expertise of rising up in Hong Kong. “However due to our expertise throughout SARS, the Hong Kong persons are way more alert.”

Choi recalled lecturers taking her temperature and having to put on face masks on a regular basis.

“Right this moment, the Hong Kong persons are way more diligent when dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, the place we all know what to do as a result of we already had an expertise of what may occur if we do not take all these security measures in opposition to the virus,” she stated.

The primary day of returning to high school in Hong Kong for the reason that SARS outbreak on Could 12, 2003.

Getty Photographs

The outbreak, first recognized in 2002, finally got here to contaminate almost 1,800 individuals in Hong Kong. Following the well being disaster, Hong Kong’s authorities created the Heart for Well being Safety, which makes a speciality of illness prevention and management.

“Once they first heard about instances occurring in mainland China, individuals took it significantly,” Keiji Fukuda, professor and director on the College of Public Well being at The College of Hong Kong advised CNBC.

“The general public actually responded and so, in most locations within the metropolis, you may actually see that most individuals had been carrying masks,” he stated referring to the times following the town’s first confirmed case.

2. Decisive border management & strict quarantine measures

Hong Kong closed 9 of its 12 border checkpoints in late January, leaving the remaining three open to facilitate the circulate of products. Because the scenario developed, the town banned all non-residents from getting into, beginning on March 25. By early April, there have been solely about 100 day by day customer arrivals and people who arrived needed to endure a strict 14-day quarantine.

Marco Bellanda, a Hong Kong resident of six years, flew from his hometown in Italy again to the town on Could 10, the place he was instantly examined for Covid-19. Regardless of his take a look at returning unfavorable, he was nonetheless required to quarantine for 14 days. Throughout that interval, the federal government tracked his location by an app and an digital wristband he was required to put on. 

“I’ve to sleep. I’ve to bathe. I’ve to prepare dinner. I’ve to do the whole lot with this,” he advised CNBC over video name whereas in quarantine in his dwelling. When he returned to his condo following his preliminary take a look at, he was instructed to stroll round his dwelling, so the federal government may guarantee his motion over the following two weeks would strictly be inside his dwelling’s coordinates.

Marco Bellanda, a Hong Kong resident of six years, arrived again into the town and was required to quarantine for 14-days with a location-tracking wristband.


“I can’t go downstairs or exterior, in any other case I believe it can ring,” he stated. “Truly, I do not wish to attempt as a result of the tremendous can be HK$25,000  ($3,225) and 6 months jail.”

In addition to the wristband, Marco has additionally acquired sporadic calls from authorities officers on WhatsApp, guaranteeing he was dwelling and asking if he had any signs or was feeling unwell.

As an infection ranges plunged, the town regularly eased a few of its border controls on the finish of April.

3. Contact tracing

Contact tracing is a technique of finding individuals who might have been uncovered to Covid-19. In lots of instances, these persons are instructed to self-isolate for 14 days to observe for any potential signs. The apply has been used extensively throughout many Asian nations in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Upon his return to Hong Kong, authorities officers requested Bellanda to put in writing down the license plate of the taxicab that introduced him dwelling. This fashion authorities may contact the taxi driver in case Bellanda later examined constructive for Covid-19.

The Hong Kong authorities additionally updates an interactive on-line map depicting detailed details about all of the confirmed instances across the metropolis, together with dates and instances of motion.

4. Centralized authorities

Hong Kong’s comparatively small inhabitants has made it simpler for the federal government to observe and management the motion of its individuals versus locations with greater populations.

For instance, the U.S. has had totally different responses to the pandemic on the federal, state, county and metropolis ranges, making a coordinated method way more difficult.

5. Cultural habits

Professor Fukuda, who beforehand labored on the World Well being Group, has lived in each the U.S. and Asia. He thinks cultural outlook has performed a big function in the way in which the outbreak has been contained within the latter.

“If you may get individuals and the authorities to work collectively, it is an amazingly highly effective mixture,” he stated. “There is a very excessive consciousness about not eager to have an effect on different individuals and never wanting to place them at threat. So, when the general public says, we’re a part of the rationale why issues are going effectively, it is completely true.”

Fukuda highlighted politicization has hindered the U.S. and its potential to comprise the outbreak. The U.S. has now reported greater than 2.6 million confirmed instances.

“In Asia, there’s a very important diploma of concern about different individuals, about caring for one another,” he stated. “Within the States, it has actually uncovered that there are large cultural variations within the nation. So, whether or not you’re within the rural areas or within the cities, whether or not you’re in pink states or blue states.”

“Whereas in Hong Kong, if something, the outbreak has introduced individuals nearer collectively,” he stated.

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