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Hong Kong

In Hong Kong

Irene's experiences

This blog will be about how I spend my days during the Coronavirus Pandemic, but first I will provide some background information about how this virus has affected us here in Hong Kong.

We got our first two confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the 23rd of January 2020. The patients were a 39 year old man who had lived in Wuhan and travelled to Hong Kong from Shenzhen before becoming ill and a 56-year-old man from Hong Kong, who had visited Wuhan the week before. At that time I was on holiday in Portugal with my husband and over the next few days started receiving what's app messages from friends in Hong Kong telling me to stock up on facemasks and handsanitizer. They also started sending me pictures of shops with empty shelves and stories of our great toilet paper panic. This rapid reaction to a small number of cases here is because people here are still haunted by the SARS outbreak of 2002/2003. All contagious diseases are taken very seriously here. Incidentally we did buy hand sanitizer in Portugal but could not get face masks for love nor money as the Portuguese government had sent a huge shipment of them to Macau.

Over the Chinese New Year period we had several clusters of outbreaks here. One centred around a large group of people who had gone out for a celebratory Chinese New Year dinner. Another revolved around a Buddhist temple located very close to where I work. More and more people began working from home. People stopped going out. Libraries closed, sports centres closed, some shops closed. Hong Kong's normally busy streets became much emptier and quieter.

Then it started to get better and we all became noticeably more relaxed and started going out again. Unfortunately, this coincided with things starting to get worse in Europe and the USA and lead to Hong Kong residents who were living, working or studying overseas flooding back here. Our number of infections shot up and the atmosphere changed to one of fear and anger about the situation. Now anyone who flies into Hong Kong is tested for Covid 19 at the airport. If you test negative, you go into two weeks quarantine. If you're positive, you go into isolation in hospital

I'm a primary school teacher and should have gone back to work on February 2nd after the Chinese New Year break, but schools were closed down by the education department. At first I had to go into school for meetings and to post work on line. I went into work three days a week. Later we had to start learning how to use Zoom and start doing lessons online. We only had to go to school once a week. Today is April 17th and schools are still closed with no sign of them reopening any time soon.

An average day here for me now involves me getting up around 8am. When I had to go to school, I would get up at 5.50am. I have breakfast then I teach on Zoom. In the afternoons I am planning work or marking work. I receive the children's work by Classdojo or email. I end up marking in the evenings, at weekends and sometimes even in the middle of the night. There seems to be no clear division between working and non-working hours any more.

I am allowed to go out. There is no lockdown here, but going out unnecessarily is discouraged. For a while I was largely only going out to shop. Now, especially since I'm getting very fat, I also go out to exercise. I'm fortunate in that I live in an area of Hong Kong with lots of open spaces and not too many people, so I don't feel nervous about going out. Many people even here where it's quite open wear facemasks. Almost everyone wears these in the more crowded parts of Hong Kong. I wear them on public transport and when I go to the supermarket. I hate wearing them especially as it gets hotter and hotter. Recently the government closed down more places such as karaoke parlours and bars following clusters connected to people going to these. However, restaurants can stay open. I eat out normally just once a week nowadays. I must wear a mask to get into the restaurant. I have to sign a health declaration form. I'm temperature checked and given hand gel to use. Tables have to be at least 2metres apart and there can be no more than four people at a table.

Things are getting better here again, but we still cannot really travel unless we want to be quarantined. Many things are still closed and we keep being told not to get complacent and to prepare for a third wave of infections.

I'll include some pictures of things I have been able to do. A few days ago I went for a walk in a lovely park near my home.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

In the park.

Next day I went shopping but to get to the shops I walked along our local beach.

Our Beach.

Our Beach.

Our Beach.

Our Beach.

Yesterday I went on a hike and ate out in the evening.

Hiking.

Hiking.

Hiking.

Hiking.

Me with a pile of chairs.

Me with a pile of chairs.

Three people on our table.

Three people on our table.

Walking home.

Walking home.

Walking home.

Walking home.

Doing things like these is possible here because we are coming out of a very bad patch for a second time. Maybe they can provide hope for others that normal life will eventually return.

Posted by irenevt 22:57 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged masks hong_kong Comments (6)

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