My last blog post was made considerable time back. I had indicated that I was moving from Covid to writing my next book on development economics. I had been kept busy writing. It was a new area for me and it is taking a longer time than I envisaged.
Some of you may recall my last book entitled, ‘Businessmen for the Poor.’ This new book is building on that book. I will share snippets from that forthcoming book from time to time.
With covid coming under control worldwide, I just want to write probably one last blog on Covid-19. As the title indicates it is about how Hong Kong managed it and the possible price paid by the people.
My first encounter with Covid-19 was Hong Kong and a request for masks. My daughter who lives in Hong Kong with her family considered herself providential that she could manage to get hold of some masks before they completely went out of the shelves in the market. She made an innocent request that I send some masks for some of the poorer church members who were struggling to lay their hands on masks.
So, I requested my professional contacts who are in active service to get me some masks. The request was circulated further down the line. The first response was that India had banned the export of masks. With that door closed, we worked with one of the acquaintances travelling from India to Hong Kong to hand carry some masks. Pat came the reply, “The customs are selectively identifying masks in passenger baggage and taking them out.” That was the end of my efforts at providing masks from India.
This experience motivated me to publish my third book entitled Covid-19. It was widely distributed by the Seventh Day Adventist Church in India to a wide variety of readers. Having failed with supplying masks for Hong Kong, I followed the manner in which Hong Kong managed to keep the country relatively free of the disease.
Masking was the first and foremost intervention carried out in Hong Kong. There were laws promoting the wearing of masks. However, masking was a habit formed over the years even before Covid-19 came on the scene. It was natural for people who had upper or lower respiratory infections to wear masks in public places. If one did not wear a mask in public places with a respiratory infection, then people looked down upon such individuals. Masking was a natural habit and it formed the first line of defence against Covid-19.
The second line of defence was maintaining a distance of two meters. The third line of defence was frequent hand washing and sanitisation. In fact, these three precautions constitute the main defiance against Covid-19.
The other intervention very consciously and rigidly implemented were isolation and quarantine. It started with isolation and or quarantine whenever there was risky contact with a local positive case. Over time they were able to control the community spread of the disease.
Then they moved to the international level. Under pressure from the people, the Wuhan Hong Kong Express train was stopped very early in the pandemic. Depending on the level of new cases in different countries, anywhere from one to three wee weeks of hotel-based quarantine was insisted upon, with longer periods from countries where the new cases are high. This has been applied quite strictly.
With these measures, Hong Kong managed to keep Covid-19 under check with very few new cases emerging daily in single digits and deaths being zero on a number of days.
What this means is that by applying Covid appropriate behaviour (CAB) Hong Kong has been able to effectively control the disease in the country. Hong Kong is a safe country for its citizens to live in.
The proportion of the citizens of Hong Kong receiving Covid vaccines has been a little over sixty-one per cent. Even when the proportion of vaccination was low, CAB was able to keep the incidence of new cases low, even as they are cut off from the world.
The price paid by the economy of Hong Kong to keep Covid out of the country is very high. Only time will tell if the consequences of the CAB measures followed in Hong Kong have helped them in the long run.
The following link will show the pattern of Covid-19 in Hong Kong as well as in other countries.