Hong Kong expats happy with government’s pandemic response

Published:  1 May at 6 PM
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Expats in Hong Kong are praising the government’s anti-coronavirus measures.

Located just 570 miles from Wuhan, the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is successfully defeating the coronavirus without resorting to lockdowns and endless local travel bans. Just a few months ago, the city was being rocked by huge, often violent, protests, but its government’s sensible reaction to the pandemic has reassured both its local and expatriate residents that its economy won’t be devastated.

Expats who’d decided to stay when the protests were at their height are now glad they made the right decision, as the economy wasn’t closed down although it’s slowed since the pandemic began. There are no lockdowns, alcohol bans or stay-at-home orders, although residents are wearing masks and washing their hands as requested. Most shops and restaurants are still open, and last month’s infection and death totals were at 1,000 and four respectively in a total population of 7.5 million.

The one concern of the Hong Kong government is complacency, but its early adaptation of social distancing and border control seems to have done the trick. Weekends see families strolling on the beach and hiking trails, kids ride scooters on the promenades and shopping plazas remain open to all. As regards social distancing laws, restaurants were quick to adapt their seating plans and temporary closures of karaoke clubs, pubs gyms, cinemas and mahjong parlours were handled well by their owners.

Seventeen years ago, Hong Kong was an epicentre for the deadly SARS outbreak, with the islands’ 300 deaths including nurses and doctors. Once the rumours about Wuhan became public knowledge last December, the city was well prepared to act in a similar manner, immediately going onto a state of high alert and reporting its actions in its local English language media outlets.

In early January, screening of all arrivals from Wuhan and contact tracking were instigated, schools were closed and working at home became the norm. Comparing Hong Kong’s immediate reaction to the present threat with those of the USA, UK and other European states, it’s no wonder that expats in the city are pleased with their government.
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