Alan Ho in his letter (“Five lessons for Hong Kong from Europe’s coronavirus battle”, March 16) extols the superior handling of the coronavirus crisis by European countries.
I was in Hong Kong at the start of the outbreak, then went to Europe for almost a month and returned just before the virus started to spread there. I saw Europe’s naive confidence that the virus would not get to their shores (the talk around town was that it literally was an Asian or, more specifically, Chinese issue).
Just look at the recent statements from the British prime minister, who made a humble policy reversal only upon realising the severity and risk of the virus’ spread.
Despite the spread of the virus in China, no border control measures or body temperature checks were implemented in Europe, no measures were taken to avoid sizeable gatherings, no health or safety recommendations were released to the public.
Well, surprise, surprise, the virus came knocking and Europe was caught completely on the wrong foot.
On the other hand, Hong Kong, just over 900km from Wuhan, the supposed epicentre of this outbreak, implemented several precautionary measures and did not have to resort to the more radical ones applied in mainland China.
And the verdict is in – the number of infection cases per million people in Hong Kong is currently lower than in France, Germany and Britain, among the countries so highly praised by Mr Ho.
Hong Kong is a liberal economy with extensive ties to mainland China – but the government was able to make a balanced and appropriate response to contain the health crisis with minimum constraints on life in the city.
Between Hong Kong and Europe, I have no shred of a doubt where I feel safer.
Jose Alvares, Macau
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