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    How Hong Kong beat coronavirus and avoided lockdown | CNBC Reports

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    I’m walking through one of Hong Kong’s major malls It’s home of iconic staples, ranging from Starbucks to Apple, none of which have had to close at all as a result of the coronavirus outbreak

    Throughout the city, gyms and nightclubs are fully open Hong Kong reported its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on January 22nd While the city did go through phased closures affecting government offices, schools, gyms and bars, other services were unaffected, such as dine-in service at restaurants, malls, and trains Despite its laissez-faire approach, Hong Kong has kept its fatality and infection rates low compared to other densely packed cities The city, which has a population of 7

    5 million people, only recorded around 1,200 cases toward the end of June Let’s compare that to Singapore, another major city in Asia While both cities recorded similar infection rates at the start, Singapore experienced a surge amid an outbreak in migrant worker housing quarters, causing the city-state to enact lockdown measures In contrast, Hong Kong had consecutive weeks of zero new cases By all accounts, Hong Kong’s situation could have been bad

    It’s one of the world’s most dense cities, public transit is often packed, there are even direct flights and trains from Wuhan In fact, more than 25 million people arrived here from Mainland China in January alone So how exactly did Hong Kong do it? Let’s look at five factors that resulted in the city defeating Covid-19 while avoiding a lockdown At the end of January, most people you saw walking through streets like this were already wearing face masks and it wasn’t because the government required it, but because people here remember all too well what happened in 2003

    We had never experienced something like that at that time,  but because of our experience during SARS, the Hong Kong people are much more alert The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, affected the city particularly hard Leah was in high school then and remembers it all too well When I was in school, the teachers were taking our temperatures and we were wearing masks all the time That’s why, today, the Hong Kong people are much more diligent when facing the coronavirus outbreak, where we know what to do, because we already had an experience of what could happen if we don’t take these safety measures

    The outbreak was first identified in 2002 and eventually came to infect nearly 1,800 people in Hong Kong Hong Kong bore the brunt of the outbreak after mainland China, with nearly 300 fatalities in the city Following the health crisis, Hong Kong’s government created the Center for Health Protection, which specializes in disease prevention and control The public really responded, and so in most places in the city, you could really see that people were wearing masks That’s Professor Fukuda

    He previously worked at the Wold Health Organization and is now the director of the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong When they first heard about cases occurring in mainland China, people took it seriously If you can get people and the government to work together, it’s an amazingly powerful combination In late January, Hong Kong closed nine of its 12 border checkpoints, leaving the remaining three open to facilitate the flow of goods As the situation evolved, the city banned all non-residents from entering, starting on March 25

    By early April, there were only about 100 daily visitor arrivals, and those who were arriving would have to undergo a strict 14-day quarantine This one is the bracelet they will put on you as soon as you land in Hong Kong The wristband belongs to Marco, an Italian who has been living and working in Hong Kong for 6 years He flew from his hometown in Italy back to Hong Kong on May 10th, where he was immediately tested for Covid-19 and, despite his negative test results, he was still required to spend 14 days in quarantine at home The wristband allows officials to track his location at all times

    I have to sleep, I have to shower, I have to cook, I have to do everything with this After returning to his apartment following the test, he had to physically walk around the house so the government could track his home’s coordinates I cannot go downstairs or outside, otherwise I think it will ring Actually, I don’t want to try because the fine would be HK$25,000  and six months jail Besides the wristband, Marco has even received sporadic calls from government officials on WhatsApp, checking in on him

    As infection levels plunged, the city gradually eased some of its border controls at the end of April After testing negative for Covid-19 in Hong Kong, Marco was asked to write down the license plate of the taxicab which brought him back home This allows authorities to contact the taxi driver in case Marco tested positive later Health officials announced a number of confirmed cases were likely contracted at this bar behind me located in the heart of the city’s nightlife district Announcements like this one are all part of its extensive efforts known as contact tracing

    Every case undergoes contract tracing to try to limit the spread of it Anybody who has had contact with a confirmed case is also instructed to self-isolate In fact, the Hong Kong government has an interactive map online showing detailed information about all the confirmed cases in the city such as their residence and how they were infected For example, a 29-year old male who tested positive on March 19, visited this building just three three days earlier All this information is in the public domain

    Sure enough, this ended up being the same gym that I go to and the company sent out an email confirming that a member had in fact tested positive and disclosed which locations and times he had visited in the previous few weeks The gym also announced it would temporarily shut its doors This is all to say every case here is heavily investigated Another factor which likely helped combat Covid-19 here is the fact that the city has a centralized government Its relatively small population means that it is easier for the local government to monitor and control the movement of its people as opposed to how it is for bigger cities or countries

    For example, the US has had different responsesto the pandemic at a federal, state-, city- and county-level amid varying regulations, making a coordinated approach tricky The final factor that helped Hong Kong combat Covid-19 could come down to cultural habits There’s a very high consciousness about not wanting to affect other people and not wanting to put them at  risk

    So when the public says, we’re part of the reason why things are going well, it is absolutely true Professor Fukuda has lived in both the US and Asia and thinks the cultural outlook has played a large role in the way the outbreak has been contained in a place like Hong Kong In Asia, there is a very significant degree of concern about other people, about taking care of each other

    But what I do see is that in the States, it has really exposed the are big cultural differences in the country So whether you are in the rural areas or in the cities, whether you are in red states or blue states Whereas in Hong Kong, if anything, the outbreak has brought people close together

    Source: Youtube

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