The nightmare of being the close contact person

January 26, 2022 10:11
Photo: HK Government

Something is worse than Omicron. It is bad to be infected with Covid-19, but even worse if you are deemed as the close contact person.

Hong Kong people are bracing for a not very Happy New Year next week amid the fifth wave of Covid-19 that saw daily cases in triple digits for three consecutive days after more than four months of zero local infections.

From Kwai Chung to Wong Tai Sin to Tsuen Wan, the unknown sources of Omicron variant keep growing and a geometric growth of infected cases is expected in the rest of the month. The dire situation is quite likely to drag on during the Year of Tiger.

The city is in fear and of course, anger. Spare a thought on the more than 10,000 residents living in the three blocks of Kwai Chung Estate who had to undergo five days of lockdown. The lockdown period of Yat Kwai House, the first-ever building to be locked down – was later extended to seven days.

The worry of compulsory lockdown in Hong Kong has never been higher. To borrow a phase from Forrest Gump, Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.”

In the past days, we heard all these weird stories. One was about a husband infected with Covid. His wife and kids were sent to Penny’s Bay. He recovered a few days later but his family members were still in the quarantine centre.

We also learned that a person who lined up for hours in the community test centre after a meal in Tsuen Wan was asked to do it again because of an infected case in Tsing Yi.

That is also why a good friend in financial industry always pays in cash and tries every way not to be traced in public because of the fear of becoming a close contact person.

His worry is typical among the expatriates in Central. Even HSBC last week warned its traders about Hong Kong’s two-week quarantine policy as one of the main risks to business continuity.

Think of the few dozen social elites who ended up staying two weeks in Penny’s Bay after attending the birthday party of Witman Hung on 3 January. And particularly Secretary of Home Affairs Caspar Tsui, who is expected to face severe punishment from his boss Carrie Lam, it might mean the end of his job and possibly his political career.

As such, it is perhaps fair to say the nightmare is not so much about catching Covid, which many countries treated it as flu, but rather being the close contacts of the patient.

That is also why even Causeway Bay is so quiet these days because one doesn’t want to give, or get, in trouble.

How Hongkongers wish the city could drop the so-called “dynamic zero” Covid policy and adopt a more realistic “live with the virus” approach like other countries, because there seems no way one can eradicate Covid.

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EJ Insight writer