Hong Kong’s First Kovid-19 Lockdown Expands Deep-Rooted Inequality

Hong Kong – When Shirley Leung, 60, engulfed in Hong Kong’s first coronavirus lockdown, She surveyed the small room she shared with her adult son, which fits in a single bed and cardboard box and plastic tub for storing clothes.

He tried to ignore the smell of the roof and walls, which were blanketed with mold. He mixed the freshly placed vegetables at home, dissatisfied with canned foods, and the government provided instant noodles when he imposed the ban on Saturday. She considered the tight, interconnected nature of her apartment building.

“If a room is infected, how is it possible not to spread the cases to subdivided flats?” Ms. Leung said in a telephone interview. “How can it be safe?”

Hong Kong has long been one of the most uneven places on Earth, a city where sleek luxury malls sit shoulder to shoulder with crowded tenments where the bathroom sometimes doubles as a kitchen. In normal times, that disparity is often hidden by the shiny surface of the city. But during the coronavirus pandemic, its cost has been unmistakable.

More than 160 confirmed cases were found in approximately 1,100 cities in Jordan’s neighborhood from January 1 to the end of last week. The government responded by closing 10,000 residents in a 16-block area. More than 3,000 workers, many dangerous suits, descended into the area to conduct large-scale trials.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the lockdown had been a success and said that an upcoming one could happen; Officials announced one in nearby Yau Maiti soon.

Officials suggested that the chronic conditions of many residents in Jordan had promoted the spread of the virus. In a densely filled neighborhood known for a vibrant night market, for high-rise apartments and abundance eateries, the city of Jordan has the highest concentration for some, when apartments are parceled into two or more smaller ones If subdivided, flats are made. .

More than 200,000 poor residents of the city live in such units, where the average living space per person is 48 square feet – Less than one third the size New York City parking space. Some places are so small and restrictive that they are called cages or coffins.

The same conditions that may have caused the outbreak also made the lockdown particularly painful for many residents, who were worried about missing a day of work or feared being stuck in poorly ventilated wires of the transmission. Authorities admitted that they did not know exactly how many people lived in the subdivided apartments, complicating efforts to test them all. Discrimination with low-income South Asian residents, many of whom are concentrated in the area, also caused problems.

Some people have accused the government of instigating circumstances to blame and then allowing a group to impose heavy measures that they at least would not be able to bear. Rich hong kong has Due to its own wrath or Blew away social-far-reaching rules, Without similar results.

“If they did anything wrong, be poor, live in a subdivided flat or have a different skin color,” said Andy Yu, an elected lockdown area official.

Since the epidemic began, subdivided apartments have been a source of concern.

Ms. Leung, retires, and her son have just one bed, which she sleeps at night and her son sleeps during the day, after returning from a shift as a construction worker at night. Cracks were visible in a roof beam, but the landlord fixed it. Mold is also a consistent problem due to dripping dirty water from a neighboring unit.

Plumbing in subdivided flats is often rebuilt to allow for more bathrooms or kitchens, but the installation is often faulty. During SARS Outbreak In 2002-03, more than 300 people were infected in a housing estate, and 42 died after the virus Defective pipeline spread through.

The government promised reforms after the SARS but acknowledged that the situation remains dangerous.

Food and Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Saturday, “Many buildings in the restricted area are outdated and dilapidated.” “The risk of community infection is very high.”

The lockdown lasted only two days, until midnight on Sunday, when the government said it had successfully tested most of the residents of the area. Thirteen people tested positive.

But experts said the government had failed to address the underlying issues.

Wong Hung, Associate Director of the Institute of Health Equity at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the government had not adequately regulated subdivided flats.

“They are afraid that if they do anything, there is no place these types of low-income families can find housing,” Professor Wong said. Hong Kong’s real estate market is consistently ranked World’s cheapest.

Income inequality in Hong Kong is also tightly associated with ethnicity, and the epidemic has prolonged discrimination against South Asian residents, who make up about 1 percent of the city’s population. About a third of South Asian families with children in Hong Kong fall below the poverty line, double the ratio for all cities, According to official data.

Many South Asians live in and around Jordan, including subdivided flats, and as the virus spread, some locals began to accuse it of unhygienic behavior.

Raymond Ho, a senior health officer, Outraged anger Last week when he suggested that Hong Kong’s ethnic minority are promoting broadcasting because they “like to eat, smoke, drink and chat together.” City leader Mrs Lam later said that the government was not suggesting that the spread of the disease was linked to ethnicity.

Sushil Naya, owner of a brightly painted Nepali restaurant in the lockdown zone, showed screenshots on his phone to online commentators in which he compared his community to animals and suggested they were alcoholic.

“We’re just working hard here, paying taxes, so how are we different from Hong Kong?” Mr. said, as an employee, referring to discrimination, an employee scrutinized the containers of takeout biryani.

Professor Wong said the government also failed to communicate effectively with South Asian residents, causing confusion about the lockout. The government later said that it had sent translators. Other residents said that the government had provided food Not culturally appropriate, Such as pork for Muslims.

Nevertheless, Mr. Neva said he supported the lockout. Although they had lost money, controlling the outbreak was more important, he said.

Other business owners agreed but also demanded compensation from the government.

Lower-Kaw, the owner of a corner stall, Shanghai Delicious Foods, said it was forced to give up ingredients it had prepared in advance for boiled buns – business since the neighborhood’s outbreak began. An additional shock over the fall.

“I lost 60 percent of my business,” he said. “Hardly anyone comes.”

Following the lockout of neighboring business owners over the weekend, they asked the government to pay at least part of their losses over the weekend. Government officials have questioned about compensation, only said He hoped that employers would not cut the salaries of employees Who had missed work.

Activists criticized the government during the epidemic for its relief efforts, noting that it did not offer unemployment assistance. In addition, most of the government’s aid has been targeted at employers rather than employees. Some companies have applied for subsidies in exchange for keeping employees on payroll, Then re-emphasized that pledge.

Some had very few options to work through lockdown despite the risk.

Ho Lai-ha, a 71-year-old street cleaner, said he cleaned the streets and cleaned sewers over the weekend, shortly after they were cited as possible sources of contamination.

“I’m a little scared, but there’s no other way,” she said as she dashed open a duster on Monday. “The area was cordoned off, but our work continues.”

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