Learn from Hong Kong, says teacher

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Former Hautlieu student Declan Barney (29), who moved to Hong Kong in August 2019 after spending four years in Vietnam, has been impressed by the way local officials have reacted to the Covid-19 crisis as they continue to produce some of the most controlled case figures in the world.

Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated cities on the planet, reported its first case on 23 January but fewer than 1,000 cases and just four deaths have been confirmed since then. The UK’s first case was announced on 31 January, with over 51,000 cases now confirmed and almost 6,000 fatalities.

Although schools have been closed for nine weeks, Hong Kong has not been placed into lockdown – a fact Mr Barney believes is a result of public co-operation following the SARS outbreak in 2003.

He said: ‘Despite everything, I feel very lucky to be in Hong Kong, since we still enjoy a degree of freedom. I am still able to meet friends and hike and there is no sign of a lockdown for the time being.

‘The public here have experienced the spread of a virus before. Having learned from the SARS outbreak people did not need much in the way of government advice – they already knew what to do and nobody needed convincing.

‘Although the wearing of masks is commonplace, in January I noticed the use of masks in public increase to nearly 100% and I began getting my temperature checked before entering restaurants, gyms and other public spaces.’

However, like everywhere else, it has been an evolving situation.

‘New rules are now in place which include restricting gatherings to no larger than four and the airport denying entry from foreigners,’ Mr Barney explained.

‘These stricter measures are due to a spike in numbers from imported cases with students returning from universities abroad. Until this spike, Hong Kong had managed to contain the spread incredibly well.

‘The leadership here should be celebrated and governments around the world should be adopting their strategies should they need to flatten the curve.’

Speaking from a tent on the outskirts of the city while on a four-day holiday hike, he added: ‘It is currently my Easter break and I should be in Sydney visiting my sister, along with other family members from Jersey, but like most people, travel plans have been postponed.

‘Hopefully restrictions are relaxed by summertime so that I can see them all again soon.’

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