Thursday, January 30, 2020

Hong Kong's problems go beyond just a mask shortage and medical woes

This afternoon in Tsim Sha Tsui East -- people in masks
on the streets and also on a big screen

Everyone wearing masks on the Central-Midlevels 
Escalator system yesterday afternoon
Also at the Central-Midlevels Escalator system:
dispensers of alcoholic hand rubs/hand sanitizers
Before I moved to Hong Kong, I never wore masks.  Not long after moving to the Big Lychee though, I learnt that it's the "done" thing here to wear surgical masks when you have a cold or flu; a practice that came about as a result of Hong Kongers' experience with SARS in 2002-2003.  And because of this, I pretty much always have a box of surgical masks in my apartment -- so that I'd have one on hand to put on when I have a cold or flu, or even after I've recovered but have a lingering cough.
As it so happened, I caught a cold a few weeks back and, after I felt okay enough to venture outside, discovered that my supply of surgical masks was running low.  Around this time, people in Hong Kong were getting wind of a mysterious virus having infected people in Wuhan.  So when I went to the pharmacist to buy a box of masks, I saw that the price had risen to more than usual.  At the same time though, there were plenty of masks in stock.  So I didn't need to go to more than one pharmacist to buy what I wanted.   
Suffice to say that there has been quite a bit of Wuhan coronavirus-induced panic going on in Hong Kong in recent days.  Masks (surgical, N95, etc.) are now hard to findShops with stock can literally sell out of them in one minute (or even less)!  Consequently, many people are running low on masks -- or facing the prospect of this happening in the near future, if they haven't already run out of the supply of protective gear that is not supposed to be re-worn and shouldn't be worn for more than 24 hours.  
While it can be pointed out that a number of other territories are experiencing mask shortages (e.g., Malaysia and Singapore, which also have confirmed Wuhan coronavirus cases), it's worth noting that Hong Kong is an international logistics hub that surely wouldn't be having such a mask shortage and also mass panic if only its government were more efficient and trustworthy, and also actually care for its people (rather than just pretend to do so).  Small wonder then that so many people want genuine universal suffrage -- so that they can get a government that is answerable to them, not just their overlords over in Beijing.

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