Up until just recently, Hong Kong was being held up as one of the better examples of how to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Despite their physical attachment to the Chinese mainland and plenty of regular traffic moving in and out, the early, aggressive measures they took seemed to be working. It was the same regimen you’re hearing about around the globe these days… social distancing, frequent hand-washing, wearing masks and all the rest. But for them, it was unusually effective. Despite having a population of more than seven million crammed into a relatively small area, as of last week they had only identified roughly 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Now that’s changed. The number of cases has almost doubled in the past seven days. So what happened? As CNN describes it, they appear to have let their guard down too quickly.
Now, however, Hong Kong is providing a very different object lesson — what happens when you let your guard down too soon. The number of confirmed cases has almost doubled in the past week, with many imported from overseas, as Hong Kong residents who had left — either to work or study abroad, or to seek safety when the city seemed destined for a major outbreak earlier this year — return, bringing the virus back with them.
This is a pattern playing out across parts of Asia — mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan — that were among the first to tackle the outbreak. All are now introducing new measures as a renewed wave of cases begins to crest.
Compared to major cities in the West, like London or New York, residents in Hong Kong can sometimes feel as if they’re living in the future. Many of the measures enacted in the Asian metropolis back in February are now being rolled out in European and American cities.