A Hong Kong affliction

February 07, 2020 13:28
Chief Executive Carrie Lam prepares to leave at the end of a news conference on Jan. 31. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong is suffering a chronic attack of carriea lamiensis (CL), a virulent disease for which there appears to be neither cure nor treatment.

The first signs of the disease began to manifest themselves in June 2019 when government sources proposed to have those suspected of societal ills removed to the mainland for unspecified treatment.

Not surprisingly, there was very considerable public opposition to this proposal, especially as the protocol, both for identifying the illnesses to which it applied and their treatment, was neither specific nor transparent.

Professional bodies labored into the early hours trying, unsuccessfully, to reach a consensus on defining illnesses which would be covered.

It was at this early stage in the progression of CL that it became apparent that this was a particularly intractable disease.

A variety of conservative means of combating it were proposed but none had any palliative or therapeutic effect whatsoever.

The disease had been running, unchecked, for three months before the first tentative step was taken to rein it in.

Unfortunately, it proved to be too little and too late, the disease had affected vast tracts of the population and the belief grew exponentially that it was reaching epidemic proportions.

By this time, the population had abandoned any hope of effective government intervention to check the spread of the virus and started to experiment with a variety of homegrown antidotes.

What began as a few posters drawing attention to the disease and itemizing solutions, quickly assumed florid proportions with the appearance of snake-oil remedies carpeting public spaces by a charlatan calling himself Dr. J. Lennon.

When the proponents of what became known as "lennonitis" realized that conservative remedies were failing, the more radical members of those committed to finding a cure or even an adequate palliative turned to non-elective invasive techniques.

By this time there was a formidable governmental body intent on allowing the virus to run its course, presumably in the belief that eventually it would turn in upon itself and self-destruct or mutate fully into rigor mortis.

Clothed in impermeable outerwear, including face masks and goggles, this motley but institutional force was plainly determined to prevent the application of traditional medicinal means.

Anti-iridescent sprays, gaseous specifics, high-pressure hydrotherapy, even prophylactic CPR were deployed with little, if any, beneficial effect other than to exacerbate the condition.

Their aggressive treatment plan sparked an equal and opposite response as the by now long-suffering populace sought to combat the virus with lasers.

When the lasers proved unequal to the remedial task, some of the patients who were exhibiting signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder tried to cauterize the infection with fire.

Worryingly, it transpired that carriea lamiensis is impervious to flame.

Six months into the epidemic, the contagion was spreading, uncontrolled, and the patients’ patience was nigh on exhausted.

The only item of good news was that with the exception of the government’s legal advisor, the disease seemed to be confined within the physical borders of the Special Administrative Region.

This escapee from the cuckoo’s nest was promptly evacuated from London to Beijing for psychotherapy. 

But carriea lamiensis – also known as MRSA virus (Moderation Resistant Psychotropic Affliction) – had wrought social and structural injuries to one of the leading universities and its symptoms were being blamed on social studies in schools.

Just when the course of the virus looked as though it had abated a little, a novel Coronavirus suddenly burst out of the news embargo in which it had been germinating secretly in Wuhan.

Hong Kong suddenly found itself between the CL and the deep blue "C".

Popular opinion was that CL, being the chief disease, would swiftly move to contain the spread of the rival viral.

Sadly, carriea lamiensis was no more receptive to means of controlling the Coronavirus than it had been to any of the conservative and surgical procedures that had been attempted to bring it under control.

Despite the very best advice from various Disease Control Centers, the overriding effects of CL left open every aperture and orifice through which the Coronavirus could enter and contaminate the by now exhausted populace.

Hong Kong’s universities and schools are empty, the malls, shops and restaurants deserted, the majority of the population cowering in their homes, stockpiling toilet rolls and pot noodles, waiting for the next victim of the coronavirus, hoping that it won’t be them.

The World Health Organization believes that the Coronavirus will peak in about April.

But, as the song goes, the Coronavirus virus “will have ended but the carriea lamiensis malady lingers on”.

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