- If the government really thinks it can eliminate all risk of Covid-19, we will never see the end of the many restrictions preventing a return to normal life
- To earn respect, the government should show some to residents waiting to return to loved ones
Having lived and worked in Hong Kong for more than 35 years and experienced the truly scary Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic, there is something frankly frightening about the way the government is trying to eradicate the comparatively non-existent and well-controlled Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.
Social distancing, compulsory mask-wearing, 21 days of hotel quarantine, multiple testing, tracking and tracing before and after arrival and constant electronic monitoring thereafter. I am not complaining and all credit where it is due, but what more can we do?
Oh yes, ban all flights from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa and the United Kingdom for months on end (“‘Helpless, upset’: Hong Kong students stuck in Britain decry entry ban U-turn”, July 22).
And yet, some cases still trickle through. We are not told how serious they are, but they are usually asymptomatic, certainly not life-threatening and some even after taking two full doses of vaccine.
Is it wrong to suggest Covid-19 and its variants will most likely never be eradicated? If the government really thinks it is going to eliminate all risk, we will never see the end of it. That so few cases are being detected means the problem, if there is one, is very much under control. Meanwhile, other diseases are being overlooked.
Many permanent residents from banned countries are waiting to return to their loved ones. The Philippines appears to have the situation under control and has few locally transmitted Delta variant cases – the supposed rationale for the ban. Yet, it has been on the banned list for more than three months with no end in sight, and Hong Kong is even closing the door as it opens by refusing to recognise the Philippines’ vaccination programme.
It is said that these people can return via a third country, but this is a complex, expensive and uncertain route, requiring twice the amount of testing and quarantine alone in a foreign country. Even Thailand’s open tourist policy has come unstuck and become a high-risk option, while the chances of being stranded in another country under the present policy are high.
Many places do not even allow arrivals from overseas other than their own residents – something Hong Kong does not see fit to do for its own people.
The government rightly wants its people’s respect. Why doesn’t it lead by example and show some compassion and respect towards its own people, by letting stranded Hong Kong residents come home?
Henry Wheare, Pok Fu Lam