Opinion | Strong cooperation in need to end pandemic

Opinion | Strong cooperation in need to end pandemic

A strong level of cooperation is in dire need in such a pandemic long march. Photo: Sing Tao

By Dr Kacey HAU

On Saturday I visit Fortress Hill, one place I spent my time in my high school days. In the local market along Spring Street, one could find a lot of cheap Shanghai dumplings and local hawk food. As a teenager, this was significant. One could save money and enjoyed some nice snacks there with friends, as an alternative to McDonald's. I stroll along Electric Road, there stands the red-bricked colonial heritage building. Now it becomes Oi!, a community art centre that was formerly the clubhouse of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Art has come full circle here, which is the site of Hong Kong’s first artists’ village.

Right next to the pedestrian pavement, one can have a feel of touch in history on the elegant design architecture. Its legacy can be felt like part of the Hong Kong story. It begins in 1897 when the Dutch Oil Company — the precursor to Royal Dutch Shell — built a kerosene depot and pier on the shore at North Point, which at the time was a rural hinterland popular for its beaches. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club joined a decade thereafter. It commissioned a wood-framed abode in the Arts and Crafts architectural style, with Chinese tile roofs, brick and plaster walls, and generous balconies overlooking the harbour. With the yacht club gone, the government took over and converted it into a storage facility. By the late 1990s, the authority had stopped using the site, and they put it on the market. Fortunately, with the Asian financial crisis hit in 1998, the government suspended all sales of its own property and it saved the building. The decision to sell this heritage proves to be wrong from hindsight.

Hong Kong is attacked by the third wave of COVID-19 since July. This is a new disease to the whole world, and we are learning every day in order to survive in the pandemic. I witnessed workers queuing up for the lunchboxes in front of the canteens and restaurants under the fiery sun, full of sweats and on masks. The government announced the abolishment of indoor dining earlier on. People ended up piling in the streets to find a place to eat. Blue-collar workers like construction workers or cleaners were seen having takeaways outdoor or inside the toilets or storerooms. On the same day, following the scorching temperature, there was a heavy rain swept across the city.

Frustrations are predictable. Every act of health stringent measures has to be realistic, functional, and well-planned. The government has made a U-turn and softened its round-the-clock ban on restaurant dining — just a day after they imposed it. The government, leaders in the fight of this pandemic, and all relevant parties can’t afford any further underestimates because of rough and unprofessional overlooks in the future. These jerky decisions can seriously undermine the trust, conformity, and loyalty of the public. A strong level of cooperation is in dire need in such a pandemic long march.

We know well we have to adapt to a new norm at this stage and in the months ahead as the pandemic is not coming to a halt in near future. Every measure has to be carefully thought with considerations of the pros and cons, and with a chain of supports to the new regime. People have to live with the infection control actions, meanwhile every walks of lives have to be maintained and respected, if not to restore and restart. Realistic measures are what people in Hong Kong are looking for, with guidance from the professionals in order to thrive.

Meanwhile, it is proven, as in many other areas there are strong rebounds of cases when the control measures have been lenient. People in Hong Kong have been doing extraordinarily well in the past months. It can be reflected by the consistent over 90% of masking in the population, and the standard of hygiene practice all along. There is always something to learn in life experience. Those are exactly what we learned in the era of SARS. The lax in the gathering restriction after Father’s Day from eight individuals per table to no limit has given false hope to the public that one can go back to the old days and celebrate. Genetic tracing of new emergent cases in this wave are pointing towards the import of cases originated from the seamen and aircrews.

It takes the entire population to suffer because of these newly found loopholes. Every lesson has a price tag. Luckily, even though we are facing daily new cases of more than a hundred in almost two weeks, the figure is not skyrocketed in a geometrical multiply as in some other areas. We are some steps closer to the virus, as experts told us it is more infectious. There is a glimpse of hope as the virus is adapting to our human host, it may cause less drastic damage to our body and thus theoretically less lethal. There is, however, absolutely no reason to be complacent when this wave is over which at its best may happen in 3 to 4 weeks if every measure is used successfully to contain the infection.

During writing, there are more and more health care providers like doctors, nurses, and clerical staff who fall down to the infection. We have to cherish this team of professionals in safeguarding the city and our lives. Do what we can as public to safeguard ourselves and others, and act considerably. This can ease the burden of our health care system and invaluable resources to fight this war. Hong Kong is still waiting for the luck to thrive again. This can only be achieved by collective and unified actions among us.

The author is Program Director of Asian Medical Experts Academy.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of Orange News.



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