Coronavirus News Asia

HK wins accolades with no cases for 14 days

Hong Kong, which has recorded no new virus cases for 14 days, is still taking no chances as it prepares to relax social-distancing rules and gradually reopen its border with mainland China.

The city’s government is reported to have secured about 10 million reusable masks to be disbursed to all its residents within a week or two, which will come with replaceable fabric and filters and can be disinfected for reuse up to 60 times.

Officials who have been working hard throughout the past few months and scouring the world for reliable supplies of masks are realizing that the new consignments of facial coverings are no longer urgently needed in their city.

Hong Kong’s government has done an extraordinary job in arresting the spread of Covid-19, defying all the odds that impede its efforts in a teeming city that sits on the verge of mainland China, where the novel coronavirus first struck down people in Wuhan in December.

Hong Kong’s total number of infections was 1,040, with only four fatalities. The city fares well globally and has become one of a few “clean spots” whose streak of no fresh cases has lasted beyond a fortnight, indicating the local spread is receding. The city also compares favorably with other territories of similar size and population density like Singapore, whose tally has broken the 18,000 mark with 18 deaths.

Still, critics and some citizens are not happy with what they say is the government’s belated offer of help, now that masks are no longer hard to come by in the city.

Many are still fuming over the officials’ perceived negligence and foot-dragging on tackling a supply crunch back in February, when the city saw panic buying of masks at the onset of the pandemic. Some are also beginning to drop their guard with the steady flattening of the city’s infection curve over the past month.

People exercising and picnicking on a playground in Hong Kong shun a banner urging them not to gather. Photo: Asia Times
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam addresses a press conference on Covid-19. Despite some of its measures that have been criticized for being too late, the city’s government is given credit for vanquishing the epidemic in a crowded city that sits on the verge of China. Photo: Handout

Yet officials cite pulmonologists as saying that dropping masks flies in the face of post-plague health protection advisories and masks will only become more indispensable to prevent any flare-ups with the resumption of business and trips.

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