In light of the evolving situation on COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong, the government has announced a series of prevention and control measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in the community. Members of the public are advised to maintain appropriate social distance with other people as far as possible. So far, suspension of classes, suspension of some public services, cancellation of government events, are some of the measures that the government has taken to contain the situation. Private companies are also encouraged to make flexible work arrangement for employees to tie in with the government strategies to fight the disease.
On March 11 the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after it spread across six continents and more than 100 countries. We've put together this handy FAQ to bring you some help, tips and perspective. For the moment, you probably don't need to panic or quarantine yourself: life continues as normal pretty much everywhere around the world. But it won't hurt to stay clued up on the official advice, as detailed below.
Think you're coming down with something? Concerned about your sniffling colleague? Worried you'll have to cancel your holiday plans? Stay up to date with our guide to the latest coronavirus guidance and developments.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that started in animals and is now being transmitted between humans. The symptoms include coughs, fever, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
How bad is coronavirus?
Unlike the flu, there is no vaccine (yet), and recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. In severe cases, the virus may cause pneumonia and/or organ failure.
Compared to Sars (another coronavirus that hit the headlines in 2003), the mortality rate of COVID-19 is low: around 3.4 percent according to the latest World Health Organisation estimate. This is, however, significantly higher than regular seasonal flu, which is fatal in around 0.1 percent of cases. So far, COVID-19 also appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu.
The elderly and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are most likely to develop a severe illness relating to COVID-19. The death rate is ten times higher among the very elderly compared with the middle-aged, according to the WHO. Children are less likely to be affected.
How will coronavirus affect my day-to-day life?
First: don't panic.
The spread of the virus outside China wasn't unexpected, and governments have been making plans and issuing advice.
The Centre for Health Protection advised the public to reduce social activities, maintain appropriate social distance with other people. Maintain good personal hygiene and keep a healthy lifestyle to build up immunity. Here's where to find updated news, alerts, and health tips from the government.
Can I still travel?
Please be reminded that COVID-19 cases have escalated in some countries and travel restrictions have been issued.
In Hong Kong, the public is encouraged to avoid all non-essential travel outside city. If it is unavoidable to travel outside Hong Kong, put on a surgical mask and continue to do so until 14 days after returning to Hong Kong. Hongkongers are advised not to go to Hubei Province and to avoid unnecessary travel to Korea, Iran, Italy, Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and Grand Est regions in France, the North Rhine-Westphalia region in Germany, Hokkaido in Japan as well as the La Rioja, Madrid and Pais Vasco regions in Spain.
On March 19 at exactly 12am, the government will impose a compulsory quarantine to all travellers (including Hong Kong residents) arriving in Hong Kong who have been to any overseas countries/territories in the past 14 days.
People entering Hong Kong from Mainland China will be required to undergo compulsory quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. Hong Kong residents returning to Hong Kong from Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do in Korea in the past 14 days must stay in quarantine centres. Hong Kong residents returning from other cities and provinces of Korea will be required to undergo medical surveillance for 14 days. Travellers who have been to Iran, France (Bourgogne-Franche-Comte and Grand Est), Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia), Japan (Hokkaido), Spain (La Rioja, Madrid and Pais Vasco) and the whole of Italy in the past 14 days must stay in quarantine centres.
Check the government website of your country of origin and your intended destination to see what policies have been put in place and monitor the situation should you plan to travel abroad. For information about countries/areas with reported cases of COVID-19, please click here.
What are the official guidelines for various countries?
– Hong Kong
– New Zealand
– South Korea
– United Kingdom
– United States