(And yes, that was supposed to sound like Gabriel Garcia Marquez book.)
I don’t want to write about coronavirus and Wuhan and what it is and how it spreads, as the news and information are coming from every source, every newspaper, TV shows updates, people spread gossip and sensational news. It’s my first time experiencing this type of issue in Hong Kong, and I really have no complaints about new experiences during my past 3 years.
Since I came to Hong Kong, I got to experience protests right from the beginning, in June last year. Few months in, you already get used to hearing police cars’ sirens and people shouting outside. You wouldn’t be surprised if someone walking on the street suddenly stopped and shouted slogans in the middle of the day. And other would respond them too!
Starting from beginning of this year, police sirens changed into ambulance sirens and instead of seeing people gather for protests, less people go out of the house. I, myself, am staying at home second week already, as I have the option to work comfortably from home.
The coronavirus is spreading fast, but in the end it might seem that it’s just like a serious flu and deaths from it shouldn’t grow as fast as confirmed infections. That being said, nobody wants to get sick and I totally understand people queuing up at night to get their masks and sanitiser. If not for P. who decided we have enough masks for now (1 full box left), I would join the panic buying. Silly? Maybe, but being in this atmosphere, where you hear only one word millions of times everyday and that word is “coronavirus” or “Wuhan”, it makes you super worried.
P. was in school during SARS and knowing his mother, she took care of all that is needed to protect the whole family, while P. only remembers not having to go to school and playing basketball almost every day. At the same time, SARS killed almost 300 people in Hong Kong alone and it seems not difficult to find a person who lost a family member to that epidemic.
I read articles making fun of the panic buying and arguments about how queuing up in cold, at night, close to other people, might actually make you sicker than not wearing a mask. And I understand it and it’s undoubtedly right, but I do understand why people do it. Especially when you are older person who is not very healthy and then you hear that people getting sick the most often are people exactly like you.
What I don’t understand is, why suddenly all supermarkets in Hong Kong ran out of toilet paper and tissues? They say the gossip goes, that toilet paper is made of something that is also used to produce masks, and so they will use it for mask production and cut down on production of toilet paper. Fake? I don’t know, but it took its toll and now I’m worried that when we ran out of toilet paper at home, I will have to order new one from Amazon instead.
Finally, I hear people doing many things to protect themselves, but with P. acting like he’s not very worried, it’s hard for me to decide how far should I go. Some people I know wrote on Facebook to keep a thin jacket on at all times and wash it after coming back home everyday. Sanitise your shoes at home. Some people I saw wear googles like in laboratories too. Of course eating out is not recommended so the whole HK is buying out instant noodles from shops as well.
Lastly, Hong Kong confirmed over 10 cases that were a result of a big hot pot party. The Health Department is therefore not recommending hot pots, they also mentioned that mahjong is too close of a game and can cause infections too. I can imagine a lot of Hong Kong people being upset to be home but unable to hot pot and mahjong! After all, that’s how Hong Kong people spend all of their days off especially in winter or on unexpected days off!