Don't let your guard down on virus even in the countryside

March 03, 2020 16:15
While the countryside or outlying islands seem to offer a relatively safer environment compared to densely populated urban areas, experts warn that such locations do not necessarily mean reduced coronavirus risks. Photo: HKEJ

Except for Antarctica, all continents around the world have now witnessed Covid-19 cases. And the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised the level of global risk posed by the novel coronavirus to "very high", suggesting that no person on this planet can ignore the epidemic.

Amid the crisis, a growing number of people in Hong Kong have been trying to breathe fresh air by going hiking either in the countryside or traveling to outer islands on weekends. The trips are planned with the aim of getting away from densely populated urban areas, but that doesn't mean one is absolutely safe. 

There is still a risk, owing to this simple fact: during those trips, many citizens are letting their guard down and moving freely without bothering to wear face masks.

The countryside is becoming packed with local visitors and hikers during weekends, with observers even saying that some rural areas are getting "more crowded than Mong Kok".

Dr. Gabriel Choi Kin, former president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, pointed out that unless a person is alone in the countryside or an outlying island, he or she should wear a face mask.

It is because as the outlying islands get flooded with visitors during holidays, you never know whether you yourself or the person next to you could be an invisible “super spreader” of Covid-19, giving rise to infection risk.

Contrary to what some people might think, people should wear face masks even if they are going hiking in countryside or on outlying islands, Choi stressed.

On the surface, the number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong has shown signs of a downtrend recently.

But as Dr. Ho Pak-leung, a clinical associate professor with the Department of Microbiology at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and director of HKU's Carol Yu Centre for Infection, has warned, if Hong Kong lowers its guard, it could become the next South Korea, or even the next Wuhan in a month.

The microbiologist stressed that all citizens should put on face masks whenever they leave their home.

After all, the key to protecting oneself from contracting the deadly virus are preparedness and vigilance.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 2

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal