Hong Kong shows pandemic can be contained without total lockdown
Hong Kong managed the first wave of coronavirus infections without resorting to a complete lockdown, opting for an increase in testing, contact tracing and changes in the behaviour of the population, according to a study
Hong Kong : Hong Kong managed the first wave of coronavirus infections without resorting to a complete lockdown, opting for an increase in testing, contact tracing and changes in the behaviour of the population, according to a study.
The study published on Friday by The Lancet Public Health maintains that these measures create less disruption in society and the economy than a strict lockdown, but they are effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19, reports Efe news.
"By quickly implementing public health measures, Hong Kong has demonstrated that COVID-19 transmission can be effectively contained without resorting to the highly disruptive complete lockdown adopted by China, the USA, and Western European countries," research leader Professor Benjamin Cowling from the University of Hong Kong said.
The research indicates that, as of March 31, it appeared that city's authorities had averted a major outbreak of coronavirus after making decisions "far less drastic" than most countries.
In addition to the aforementioned measures, they also applied border entry restrictions, quarantine and isolation of cases and contacts, while introducing "some degree" of social distancing.
The authorities, according to the study, in late January carried out intense surveillance for infections on travellers who entered the territory and also in the local community, with daily tests in early March on around 400 outpatients and 600 inpatients.
"Extensive efforts were also made to track down and quarantine all close contacts an infected person had seen two days before becoming ill," it said.
In addition, all those arriving in Hong Kong from mainland China and from infected countries had to observe a 14-day quarantine at home or in designated facilities.
The city's government also encouraged the adoption of social distancing through work flexibility arrangements, the closure of schools and cancellation of large events.
As of March 31, Hong Kong had 715 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 94 asymptomatic infections and four deaths, in a population of 7.5 million. It now has 1,022 cases and four deaths.
The authors also highlighted that COVID-19 has changed the habits and behaviors of individuals, according to several telephone surveys carried out once a month from January to March with around 1,000 people each time.
The most recent in March reveals that 85 per cent of respondents reported avoiding crowded places, and 99 per cent reported wearing face masks when leaving home – up from 75 per cent and 61 per cent respectively from the January survey.