After experiencing months of social unrest, Hong Kong is bracing for another challenge: novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
Whether you’re already in Hong Kong or you’re deciding whether you should continue with your trip to Hong Kong, we’d like to equip you with needed information about the current situation of the novel coronavirus in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s coronavirus cases: Latest updates
Sharing a border with mainland China, where the virus first broke out and tens of thousands of people have been infected, Hong Kong is one of the more vulnerable places facing the deadly virus.
As of February 7, there were 25 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (including one death) in Hong Kong. Some 150 cases were still hospitalised for testing.
Currently, Hong Kong has the fourth most confirmed cases outside mainland China. (Note, however, that those stats have the likeliness to change from day to day.)
You can find the latest local situation on the Centre for Health Protection’s dashboard. The department’s landing page for coronavirus in Hong Kong also includes a list of buildings where confirmed cases have stayed and a list of flights they have been on.
Wars.Vote4.hk is a grassroots website offering detailed information about coronavirus in Hong Kong. It gathers information from various official sources including hospital A&E wait times and service disruptions.
Hong Kong has banned residents of Hubei Province, where the virus first broke out, and people who have visited the province from entering Hong Kong since January 27.
While some borders remain open, the Hong Kong government announced in a press conference yesterday that all travellers entering Hong Kong from mainland China will be required to be quarantined for 14 days from February 8.
Travel warnings and advisories
Italy has suspended all flights to and from Hong Kong.
Travellers are advised to check with their foreign ministry or health department for up-to-date advice before making travel plans.
The actual situation
Ever since the Hong Kong government has suspended schools and encouraged companies to allow their staff to work remotely, Hong Kong’s streets are quieter than usual.
Museums and facilities under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Antiquities and Monuments Office have also temporarily shut their gates.
Some events and festivals are cancelled or postponed—check our events page for details.
With coronavirus bringing back memories of the deadly outbreak of SARS in 2003, Hong Kongers are especially cautious.
Many people go about their daily lives as usual—apart from frequently checking online stores for masks and sanitizers supplies and reciting the differences among pfe, vfe and bfe (different functions in masks). Most businesses are operating as usual with special measures.
In restaurants, all the servers/customers will be wearing masks and equipped with hand sanitizers.
The upside is that popular restaurants are now without the hours of queues at the doors. Shops are fairly empty so you can slowly browse through what you want without bumping into fellow shoppers.
Cinemas now seat audience members every other row.
What to do if you’re in Hong Kong
- Bring your own supply of masks and sanitizers as it’s hard to buy those items when you’re in town.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Rub for at least 20 seconds getting soap between each finger and under your nails. Use hand sanitizers when water and soap aren’t available—after pressing lift buttons or pulling door handles, for example.
- Avoid touching your eyes, noses, ears, mouth or food with unwashed hands.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow or cover your mouth with tissues/napkins/masks. Then, dispose of those items in a lidded bin.
- Wear a mask when you’re in crowded places or on public transportation. Or avoid going to crowded and poorly ventilated places.
- If you have spares, switch your greetings to a friendly: “Do you have enough masks?” It may help you make new friends or prompt some warm smiles (hidden behind masks).
P.S. Wearing a mask when you’re sick is a cultural courtesy in Hong Kong with or without a virus outbreak.