Face mask, hand disinfection gel, sanitary paper towel, a used envelop, or small plastic bag for a used face mask; all the abovementioned items are essential „hygiene gear“ for everyone in Hong Kong since the end of January. In Hong Kong, the first new coronavirus pneumonia case confirmed on 23rd January 2020. The news had stirred up the grievous memory of SARS. (severe acute respiratory syndrome, an infectious disease broke out in 2003) It was the reason the awareness of epidemic prevention of the total population in Hong Kong could be reawakened within a short period. For it was a lesson we had learned seventeen years ago: epidemic prevention is never too soon but too late, and the precaution must start with each of us.
I was in Hong Kong in February. Whenever I went out, even though it was only a thirty minutes trip to the supermarket, here was the standard procedure to protect myself from infection:
Putting on a face mask from the moment I left home.
Avoiding physical contact with others on the way.
When it was unavoidable to dining outside, finished the meal in the shortest time, then put on a face mask once again soonest.
I clean hands with disinfection gel or paper towels regularly.
When I arrived home, before I entered the front door, cleaning the shoes with disinfection spray and then put off the jacket. It was best to take a show and change all the clothes at once.
Cleaning personal staff, for example, mobile phone, tablet, wallet and handbag with disinfectant at least once a day.
Maybe you would say: “it is too panic to let precaution measures disturbing our daily routine as such.” There is always a misconception that face masks and extra disinfection measures are actions for those suspected and confirmed patients. However, it is our real experience; if each citizen had not taken a quick reaction (over 90% of people in Hong Kong today will put on face mask on the street!), the number of infected cases would have been ten times as present. Thus, in the face of a health disaster, our lesson is: keep alter but don’t be paralyzed by fear and pessimism. We promote our awareness of the characteristics of the virus and the way it is transmitted and take the corresponding precaution in daily life. You can participate actively in this battle, even though you are not medical staff. The best way to contribute yourselves is to execute those preventive measures pronounced by the government and tunicate the infection chain firstly from you.
During the crisis, anxiety is our collective reaction, but still, don’t forget to give each other your warmest regards and smile. In Hong Kong, almost all social activities have been suspended, school, recreational facilities had been closed, even services in churches have been halted. Instead, we have service, classes, meetings, or even „fellowship gathering“ on the internet. When we are „locked“ physically at home, with the help of cell phones, zoom, and other social media, we tried to „stay close“ with others. I still believe in the power of sharing and prayer. We are separated fleshly, but the spirit can penetrate and bind us together. I am not worrying alone; in weakness, God present with us as we gather in his name, share his word, though we can meet only on the net. Coronavirus frightens us and blocks our way of reaching out to others physically. The virus, however, cannot separate our spiritual and friendly connection with others, and of course, with our gracious Father!
Regina Chan kommt aus Hongkong und promoviert am Lehrstuhl für Systematische Theologie der Universität Regensburg