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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 2.5 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 inmainland China, people took itseriously.

  • Ifyou can getpeople andthegovernment towork together, it's an amazingly powerfulcombination.

  • 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 trackhis 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 caseundergoes contract tracing to try to limit thespread 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 U.S. 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 atrisk. 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 U.S. 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 verysignificant 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.

I'm walking through one of Hong Kong's major malls.

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How Hong Kong beat coronavirus and avoided lockdown | CNBC Reports

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    Summer posted on 2020/07/30
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