Health & Environment

Health & Environment

Rumours on social media sparked Hong Kong's toilet paper run

For more than two weeks, toilet paper has been hard to come by at supermarkets around Hong Kong. At ParknShop in City One Shatin housing estate, shelves which normally used to be loaded with toilet rolls are now left empty. The store had to put up a sign on the empty shelves saying that as soon as toilet paper is restocked, each customer will be allowed to buy only two packets. Panic buying started after the rumours spread on WhatsApp stating that the factories in mainland China will stop working, meaning there will be a shortage of toilet paper in Hong Kong.  The posts which started to spread on February 5, were credited to an anonymous inner source from Wellcome, one of the biggest supermarkets in Hong Kong. Wellcome dispelled the rumours the same day, saying that no such worries were needed since the factories in the mainland are still supplying toilet paper regularly.  On the same night, the Hong Kong government has confirmed that there will be no shortage of major supplies such as food products. They also said that there was no need for the public to panic and called the rumour mongers were with "evil intentions." Olivia Cruz is a domestic helper who has worked in City One Shatin for seven years. Carrying two packs (16 rolls) of toilet paper outside Parknshop, she said that her employer told her to buy as much as possible. "My employer is always browsing in social media, that is where he got the news," Ms. Cruz said. The supermarket came up with a policy that each customer can only purchase up to two units of specific supplies. Not only toilet paper, rice, ethyl alcohol, and hand wash are also in the restriction lists.  According to Winnie Ip, a shop assistant in …

Health & Environment

No-contact deliveries in Beijing: local residents want to minimise contact when picking up online purchases

Boxes, handbags and takeaways stapled with order forms are placed messily in the depository at the entrance of Haojing Jiayuan, a Beijing residential community, after the novel coronavirus caused the management property to restrict access. On February 10, the Information Office of Beijing Municipality held a news conference to encourage people not to come into contact with those who deliver their online orders.  "We advise couriers to deliver packages to a designated area where few people normally pass. We may set different schedules and sections of depositories so that people don't meet each other too often," said Wang Ge, a spokesperson of the Office at a press conference on Feb 10, according to a video from the Beijing News. Some residential communities in Beijing have since set up delivery depositories in order to get their daily supplies and other purchases during the coronavirus epidemic.   The property management of Haojing Jiayuan, for example, has been restricting access to the complex since January 31, and body temperature of every person who enters the community has to be taken. "They (security staff) looked at me as if I'm highly contagious," Song Jiazhu, a ZTO Express courier, said after he was denied access. He added that due to his responsibility, he couldn't "simply put the package here and leave." Eventually, Mr. Song left the community with the package after his client agreed to arrange another time for delivery. However, not all communities strictly follow the no-contact delivery rule. Xu Xiangnan, who lives in Jinyu Huafu, a community in Changping District at the outskirts of Beijing, said there are no such depositories near his home. "Our community has been closed, but the courier called me from outside the gate and I took the package from him," he said. He added that "although it's rather convenient to …

Health & Environment

Couriers cannot go into the housing estates: how do people take food and deliveries?

In Xinjinan garden, in one of the housing estates in Baoan, Shenzhen, a shed is built near the entrance of the garden for people to take their food and packages. When they come into the garden, the guard takes their temperature. As the coronavirus cases are still showing an upward trend in mainland China, people are forced to stay at home. Shenzhen, a city with the most ports in China, has been most affected by the outbreak in the Guangdong province. The number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 400 and even now surpassed Guangzhou. To reduce the human-to-human transmission, all delivery men and couriers cannot go into the housing estates, according to the latest policy. Individuals, who do not want to go to the supermarket, need to go downstairs to pick up their delivery.

Health & Environment

Community teams in Hebei cope with scarce resources while fighting epidemic

Since February 1, Zhangjiakou government has required each residential community to form a coronavirus prevention team composed of at least 10 members to control personnel access and register residents' health situation, while due to the medical resources in short supply and limited joint members, community workers overworked only with basic protection. At the gate of some communities, temporary board houses or tents are built as epidemic checkpoints for community workers to check the identity card of the residents and detect the temperature of entering personnel. Some of them even continue working for 4 hours only with a table under the degrees below zero. "I put on 3 pieces of the warmest jacket in my home to resist cold weather," said Angela Zhang, the one assigned to the community to assist epidemic control work during the outbreak of coronavirus. "It's tough work for limited community workers." Aside‌ ‌from‌ ‌guarding‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌gate‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌community,‌  ‌she‌ ‌needs‌ ‌to‌ ‌distribute‌ ‌and‌ ‌collect‌ ‌the‌ ‌health‌ ‌registration‌ ‌form.‌ ‌The‌ ‌health‌ ‌registration‌ ‌form‌ ‌includes‌ ‌the‌ ‌names,‌ ‌the‌ ‌telephone‌ ‌number,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌travel‌ ‌situation‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌residents‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌past‌ ‌two‌ ‌weeks.‌ ‌ ‌ "I‌ ‌paste‌ ‌the‌ ‌form‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌door‌ ‌of‌ ‌each‌ ‌household‌ ‌and‌ ‌remind‌ ‌them‌ ‌to‌ ‌fill‌ ‌it‌ ‌in‌ ‌by‌ ‌phone," ‌said‌ ‌Ms‌ ‌Zhang. Such‌ ‌work‌ ‌will‌ ‌repeat‌ ‌3-5‌ ‌times‌ ‌to‌ ‌get‌ ‌the‌ ‌effective‌ ‌response‌ ‌of‌ ‌each‌ ‌family." ‌ The community epidemic prevention work is facing a shortage of workers. Primary and secondary teachers are also required to be on duty at the gate of each community to assist community workers' work from February 1to 7.   "The secretary of our community joint committee has not been home for several days because of the work to prevent the epidemic," said Ms Zhang. Medical supplies in short cannot guarantee the basic needs of community workers. Ms …

Health & Environment

Coronavirus: Hong Kong's DSE candidate faces an uphill battle with the risk of examinations delays

  "This year's HKDSE examination is like a disaster," says Lam Ka-Yi, a 2020 HKDSE candidate.   On February 13, the Education Bureau announced the classes of all schools remained suspended before March 16, and on the same day, the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority announced the schedule of the 2020 HKDSE still yet confirmed. The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority and the Education Bureau will decide the HKDSE schedule in late February. Based on the latest development of infections caused by the coronavirus in the community, they will decide whether the written examinations can be conducted from 27 March as scheduled, or will be postponed to 24 April.  However, Ms Lam says she's worried that the decision made on a detailed HKDSE schedule will be too late.  "I'm just hoping the government can confirm an exact date and plan on DSE examinations as soon as possible, as my study plan is now laying behind what I expected because of all the uncertainty on the exam schedule," says Ms Lam. The portion of Chinese- language speaking examination of the DSE examination scheduled for March 11 to 19 and English-language speaking and written exams conducted between March 27 and May 15 now might be delayed up to four weeks. The HKEAA also announced there is a portion that the written exams postponed with the cancellation of the Chinese- and English-speaking exams  Facing the situation that the  Chinese and English- language skills examination might be canceled, Ms. Lam thinks the arrangement is vague and disturbs candidates’ confidence dealing with the upcoming exams as the results might be affected once the speaking tests are canceled. "As a 2020 HKDSE candidate, I feel the urgency to practice my oral skills and do mock paper exercise in this remaining month. However, I'm disappointed that …

Health & Environment

Fo Tan: Residents refuse to leave homes following first coronavirus case

On February 6, Fo Tan saw its confirmed first coronavirus case after a middle-aged man had returned from Guangzhou.  The man, who remains unnamed, 42, lives at the Palazzo's Tower 10 and had travelled to mainland China and Macau over the Chinese New Year holidays to spend time with friends and family.  But on February 3, after returning to Hong Kong, he began to develop a fever and cough before being brought to the Prince of Wales Hospital, where he tested positive for the virus and has since remained in stable condition.  Rita Babani, who lives in tower two at the Palazzo, says she's worried that the virus could spread to other towers during the estimated 2-14 day-long incubation period.  "I'm just hoping for the best after the case in tower 10 and will probably stay indoors until all of this is over," says Ms Babani.  The Palazzo's management, however, has begun to take steps to ensure the well-being of its residents, including having hand sanitizers on each floor and cleaning its facilities twice a day.    Ms Lee, who did not want to reveal her first name in fear of losing her job at the Palazzo, believes that residents should avoid going out until the epidemic subsides.  "We are obviously doing our best in terms of ensuring the health and safety of our residents. I think it is also the responsibility of our residents to take precautions and only go out when required during a difficult time like this," Ms Lee argues. Local businesses have also taken a hit, as a result of the coronavirus case at the Palazzo.  Steven Chan, 26, who works at a local barbershop in Fo Tan, says that business has been adversely affected since the case. "I think it's no surprise that business has been …

Health & Environment

Coronavirus is changing Hong Kong residents' daily routine

Coronavirus is spreading in Hong Kong. Since the Lunar New Year, local  residents have been searching for surgical masks, hand sanitizers and disinfectant. Three weeks after the lunar new year, the supply of face masks is still under the demand. The Hong Kong government tried to purchase surgical masks from other parts of the world but they still cannot provide a stable supply of masks. Some Hong Kong residents are panicking about the lack of face masks and spending hours queuing up for a box of masks. Some organisations distribute free face masks to elderlies in communities. The situation on valentine’s day is still the same.  

Health & Environment

What happens if a COVID-19 case is found in your building?

XI'AN---- A plastic rope hung from a window on the third floor of a residential building. In the garden downstairs, a man tied a courier box to the rope and the box was then pulled up. This is a way for residents living in Unit One of Building One of Zhongjian Kaiyuan City to obtain items while the unit is blocked. Zhongjian Kaiyuan City is a residential community located in the west of Xi'an, Shanxi province. On February 14, a resident of Unit One of Building One was found to be a suspected case of the novel coronavirus. There was a confirmed case found in the same community on February 4.  According to the work plan of the local government on epidemic prevention and control, as long as there is one suspected case in one unit, the entire unit will be blocked for 14 days, no one can enter or leave.  The security personnel set up a simple movable boardroom out of the unit on February 15, on duty 24 hours to prevent anyone from entering and leaving at will. If residents need daily necessities, such as vegetables and fruits, they need to ask friends or call delivery service to send the items to the property office. Staff will disinfect the items and then send them to the household door to door. "It is really inconvenient to follow this way. We think that we can also avoid infection with our method," said Tian Mimeng, 46, who lives on the third floor of the blocked unit. She and her family camp up with a new method - using a plastic rope to 'fish' items from downstairs.  Ms. Tian said the property office called her to collect the information and health status of her family members. Before the unit was blocked, although …

Health & Environment

The Southern District council members in Ap Lei Chau are selling masks to the needy

All the shops on Ap Lei Chau main street are still open as normal even though one of the residents nearby has been confirmed to have the coronavirus. People are walking around, buying groceries and eating in the restaurants as usual. However, some people are so worried about the shortages of daily necessities like masks and toilet paper who have emptied in the supermarkets. Chan Ping-yeung, a councilor of Ap Lei Chau North, started selling masks online with other council members last week.  He thinks that people are more willing to help their neighbors during the epidemic. "Both restaurants and local residents have been donating bleach, hand sanitizers and masks for free to those who are in need," says Chan. "I didn't get the masks, because I have sufficient masks. So, I want to share it with others," Lam Chin-hei, 21, says.  The first coronavirus case has been confirmed on February 9, 2020.  Chan agrees that there are sufficient masks for the elderly in Ap Lei Chau, which six out of the eight elderly houses can get adequate prevention supplies.  However, Chan feels disappointed that the communication with the government has been difficult. "The government prioritizes the political issues. They rejected all my suggestions just because I am not from the pro-establishment camp. They argue for nothing instead of really dealing with the virus. It made me very angry," explains Chan. As the office of the Home Affairs Bureau has been closed for two weeks, the district council was forced to hold a meeting outside the tennis court. Although the district council has approved five hundred thousand dollars funding to buy more epidemic prevention supplies, the councilor of Ap Lei Chau North says that the administrative process of claiming the money has been frustratingly slow.