Hong Kong, home to many Pinoys, ranked as one of safest cities amid COVID-19 pandemic
This aerial photo shows people gathering at a beach in Hong Kong on April 19, 2020. Starting on March 29 the city's government banned public gatherings of more than four people in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
AFP/Dale De La Rey

Hong Kong, home to many Pinoys, ranked as one of safest cities amid COVID-19 pandemic

(Philstar.com) - April 20, 2020 - 4:21pm

HONG KONG (As released) — Since the first novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases were confirmed in Hong Kong earlier this year, the city has seen its citizens, private businesses and public sector come together and work tirelessly round the clock to keep everyone safe and everything functioning as smoothly as possible. 

From small businesses taking extra precautions to public institutions setting the tone for the way forward, the city continues to move, allowing residents to interact responsibly with one another during this extraordinary time. 

In a ranking done by Deep Knowledge Ventures (DKV), a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm focusing on health care and longevity technology, the city placed in the top 10 Asia-Pacific countries considered to be the safest places to be in during the outbreak.

In this specific list, DKV ranked 20 Asia Pacific countries based on the lowest likelihood of infection, lowest chance of mortality, and highest likelihood of recovery based on efficiency of quarantine and government management, monitoring and detection, as well as emergency treatment readiness.

The Hong Kong authorities have put in place some safety measures to ensure that they are kept healthy and taken care of. 

Safety in technology

Hong Kong’s public transportation system is easily one of the most efficient in the world. In light of the current situation, trains, buses and taxis have all stepped up with more rigorous cleansing procedures and services to give their riders some much-needed peace of mind. 

Leading the way is train service company MTR Corporation, which recently started to utilise an army of Vapourised Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) Robots to strategically and thoroughly decontaminate its train carriages and stations. High-contact station facilities, like ticket issuing machines, elevator buttons, and handrails are disinfected with bleach solution every two hours. Even the air conditioner filters on the trains are washed and replaced at more frequent intervals than before. 

At Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), one of Asia’s busiest travel hubs, Intelligent Sterilisation Robots (ISRs) have been deployed to sterilize germs and viruses using a combination of UV light technology, 360-degree spray nozzles, and air filters. These technologies were developed in Hong Kong, but the robots were previously used only in hospitals. HKIA is the first airport in the world to use ISRs in a non-clinical setting. 

Riding safe

Most taxi drivers these days are driving with face masks on as a courtesy to their passengers, and many taxis have bottles of hand sanitizer attached to the back of the driver’s seat for riders to use at their convenience. Not to be outdone, double decker bus company KMB has started installing hand sanitizer dispensers on buses, as well as at various stations. KMB buses also provide floor mats sprinkled with bleach solution to conveniently help disinfect passengers’ shoes as they step on board the bus.

Creative solutions 

Despite cancellations, many of the city’s organizers have come up with a Plan B to allow guests to experience the joys of a physical or social gathering without large crowds. 
The world-renowned Art Basel Hong Kong 2020 swapped a physical exhibition for Online Viewing Rooms, showcasing more than 2,000 art pieces from 235 galleries from around the globe. The online viewing room was a great success, with over 250,000 virtual visitors in total. 

For those who were looking forward to travelling to Hong Kong last March in time for Arts Month can still purchase and appreciate the beauty of art as Art Central, another large-scale art fair, is taking sales online via a website that allows visitors to easily sort through more than 500 artworks by artist, exhibitor, size, price and medium. Other virtual galleries such as K11 Art Foundation, Sotheby’s Hong Kong and M+ Collections Beta are also available to keep the art community connected and entertained.

Artistic relief

Asia Society Hong Kong, meanwhile, has teamed up with The Hong Kong Art Gallery Association to put on a one-month Sculpture Exhibition, featuring art from international and local galleries and a full-day Art Talk Programme that is live-streamed on Facebook. Homegrown community platform ART Power HK sprung up this year to make up for the gap in the regular arts calendar caused by the coronavirus by partnering with respected authorities and hosting a series of thought-provoking events and conversations online.   

Staying true to his brand’s playful spirit, Douglas Young, of lifestyle chain G.O.D. (Goods of Desire), reminds the community to keep positive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic by launching a line of fabric face masks available in multiple colours and quirky designs. "Naturally, they are just fashion masks, but I want to inject a sense of humour to help people reduce stress during the current situation," said Douglas. "I will continue to come up with more functions and innovative designs to encourage people to stay positive." 

Inspired by Hong Kong's vibrant culture and locally made in G.O.D.'s workshop, the washable, reusable masks not only help with the global shortage, but also keep the brand's craftspeople working. The masks, designed with a pocket to insert a filter, are also an eco-friendly alternative for everyday use.  

Stronger together

With myriad innovative strategies and a proactive approach, Hong Kong has so far been able to move forward on a relatively slow, steady and minimally disruptive path throughout the coronavirus outbreak. What’s more, despite the uncertainty in the days ahead, Hong Kong people have demonstrated their ability to band together and work through difficult situations with passion and community spirit. During times like these, it is this collective action that puts peace in our minds, ensuring us that Hong Kong will do what it can to protect and take care of everyone in its city, regardless of nationality. 

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