While you have just had
your first birthday, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging all over
the world and Hong Kong, of course, cannot be spared.
Hong Kong has been
fighting very hard against the virus for almost six months.
Thanks to the concerted effort of all Hong Kong people, the
epidemic has been contained and eased slightly.
However, it is rather frustrated that the Government's
bureaucratic inertia and "bit-by-bit" responses to control the
spread of the virus is far from satisfactory.
At the beginning, though
there are only few confirmed cases being identified in Hong Kong,
voices from public health experts have already sounded out their
requests to the Government to implement stringent health measures,
such as health declarations upon arrival, to stop the influx of
potential carriers or infected persons into the local community.
Nevertheless, without suggesting other better alternatives,
the Government ignores these proposals.
When it comes to the time
where the number of imported confirmed cases is escalating
exponentially, most of the public and some of the health
professionals strongly demand the Government to shut down Hong
Kong’s borders so as to prevent an epidemic in the community.
Making no attempt to put forward sensible justifications, the
Government, again, refuses doing so.
It is indeed disappointed
to see that the Government’s responses to deal with the COVID-19
epidemic are "disconnected" and, above all, overridden scientific
evidences with political considerations.
As a result, without
implementing effective and timely preventive measures, the
Government fails to cut off the source of the virus flooding into
Hong Kong, and, thus, intensify the risk of community outbreaks
Apart from the
Government's slow and indefinite responses to contain the epidemic,
it is also astonished seeing that the Hospital Authority is
incapable of providing sufficient personal protective equipment
(PPE) for frontline health professionals to fight against the
It is noted that a daily
limit of using surgical mask for each health professional is
imposed, the use of protective clothing is tightly regulated, and,
worse still, N95 respirators, goggles and face shields are expected
to be reused.
Not to mentioned that the
Hospital Authority attempts to justify such restrictive provision
with the claim that there is a sudden surge of consumption and an
acute under supply from the vendors, it is also rather ironic seeing
that in making efforts to top up the overall stock of PPE, which has
already dropped from a three months standard to become only a month,
the Authority further confines the use of PPE of frontliners by
repeatedly scale down the level of protection and specifications of
PPE of the infection control guideline.
It is indeed extremely saddened that the safety of frontline
health professionals is thus being further threatened and
Looking back at the SARS
epidemic that occurred 17 years ago, though there happened to be
fears of unknown and threats of uncertainties, the then Government
and the Hospital Authority were able to demonstrate leadership and
protection to direct the community and health professionals to fight
against the infectious disease.
Community outbreak was being contained by effective
preventive health measures.
Frontline health professionals were backing by continuous
supply of PPE and other related resources.
At that time, it was also encouraging to see that the
community, the health professionals and the Government were all
standing together to overcome the crisis.
However, as for today, it is rather disheartened seeing that
there is a general lacking of confidence and trust between these
stakeholders in combating against the COVID-19 epidemic.
Obviously, frustration and sense of being left alone become
phenomenal among the community and frontline health professionals.
To sustain the momentum of
the frontliners in fighting against the virus, the Association of
Hong Kong Nursing Staff initiated an industrial action named
"Protect Yourself with Zero Infection" in February.
While calling for all frontline nurses to strictly observe
the infection control guidelines stipulated by the Hospital
Authority, it also urged the Hospital Authority to issue appropriate
protective equipment to protect patients as well.
Addition to requesting the
provision of sufficient PPE and isolations facilities to the
frontliners, the initiative also demanded the Authority to
transparent its road map & timeline on the topping up of this
equipment, and deploy appropriate manpower to deal with the
Along with the frustration
of the frontline health professional is the despair of the general
public in encountering difficulties to obtain sufficient number of
surgical masks and alcohol hand rubs to protect themselves from
crossed infection during the epidemic.
With no substantial
support and assistance from the Government, most people in Hong
Kong, are unexpectedly, have to queue up for surgical masks with
unreasonable additional charges.
Becoming a scarce goods in
the market, surgical masks turn into a kind of luxury products for
the weak and vulnerable groups which, in turn, escalated their
public health risk.
making no attempt offering help to the citizen, the Government, on
the contrary, prefers to convince the public that wearing surgical
mask is not necessary at all.
Until recently, as the
epidemic appears to be settling a bit, the Government, out of a
sudden, announces the issuing of free reusable masks, the CuMask+,
to all Hong Kong people.
To most of the citizen, who have already dashed to pile up their
stock of masks in the past months, are indeed caught by a surprise
of such a "never-too-late" mentality of the Government.
happened to be a lot of controversies over the CuMask+ scheme since
its inception as well.
Queries about its unusual practice of tendering that invited
challenges of possible conflict of interests.
The claim that the design of using magnetic field to provide
effective filtration is a patented technology, which had been
awarded a Gold Medal at the International Exhibition of Inventions
of Geneva 2018, is a misleading one and, above all, has never been
used in manufacturing the CuMask+.
Moreover, the efficacy and
safety of the CuMask+ are also being questioned.
Scientists and technology experts have raised their concerns
and pointed out that the six-layers mask is not able to immobilize
or kill viruses at all.
Simply because the fibers in the copper-core are sparsely lined and
could be damaged by sewing machines during the manufacturing
respiratory droplets may pass through the reusable mask fairly
easily. Besides, testing
results also indicated that the size of copper molecules lined in
the mask is ranging from less than 0.1 to 1.5 microns, which are
found to be small enough to be inhaled during respiration.
Thus, the issue of inducing health risk out weighted its
claimed protective function.
With the identification of
a string of infections linked to the warehouse cluster early this
week, the growing fear of a "super spreader" in the community has
raised concerns of a greater outbreak.
Health experts and
epidemiologists begin to renew their call for mandatory screening,
and pile pressure on the Government to scale up testing capacities
in both public and private sectors to identify possible carriers in
Hopefully, the Government
will not seek to diffuse these concerns as she did before but to
take positive follow up actions to help protecting the community
from having a third wave epidemic.
Be that as it may,
COVID-19 is going to be a "new normal", it is necessary for the
Government to keep monitor the epidemic closely and respond
frontliners and individuals, despite of their frustrations and
despair, don't lose hope, just getting back to the basics, i.e.
vigilant personal hygiene, proper PPE as required, and, last but not
least, stay mentally healthy.