Hong Kong’s zero-COVID fight is having a mental impact on society, experts say

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HONG KONG: Yeung, a Hong Kong resident, waited 1 p.m. outside a hospital in the city’s eastern district in cold and rainy weather with his three-year-old daughter, who had a high fever, before he could be admitted for treatment COVID-19.

By the time they were able to enter, her fever had subsided and she did not need medical attention.

Yet the 42-year-old utility worker had to stay in hospital for four nights without a bed as he and his daughter were not allowed to leave. They were then sent to a government isolation center for another nine days.

His greatest stress came not from being infected, but from leaving his wife and 22-month-old child, both with COVID-19, at home without any support.

“My wife suffered a lot. Her symptoms became more severe due to the difficulty of taking care of the baby and the lack of time to rest,” said Yeung, who declined to give his full name due to sensitivity. of the question. “She said she would jump down if no one came back to support her.”

Yeung’s story is one of many in the global financial hub, which enforces some of the world’s toughest coronavirus regulations more than two years into the pandemic.

Infections have reached record highs with more than 500,000 infections and more than 2,500 deaths – most of them in the past two weeks.

The mental wear and tear on many of the city’s 7.4 million residents often stems not from infection with the virus, but from politics and messages from authorities, causing panic and anxiety, said health experts. For example, the Hong Kong government has for some time insisted that infected children, regardless of age, should be isolated.

“At the cost of our physical safety… It seems like they may have lost sight of the humanity within them. For all of these measures, there’s this underlying fear,” said Dr Judy Blaine, wellness specialist at consultancy Odyssey in Hong Kong. The burden falls more disproportionately on the most vulnerable people in society, such as domestic helpers, migrant workers and low-income residents – many of whom live in tiny, subdivided apartments with elderly parents and their children.

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