Today is Ching Ming Festival, a traditional festival (along with Chung Yeung Festival in autumn) for families to visit the tombs of ancestors, clean them up, pray for them and make rituals.
Our family currently don’t celebrate Ching Ming Festival because our parents are very healthy, and we believe that we should respect them when they are alive rather than pray for them afterwards.
However, this year, although my family stay healthy, there is a pandemic called COVID-19 ongoing which has infected more than a million people worldwide and killed about 60 thousand people by now. The epidemic started in January in Hubei Province, then spread out to other provinces, and by March worldwide. Today has become a national mourning day for those killed by the disease.
In order to control the disease, various measures are set up, from closures of schools and cancellation of mass events, then enforcing social distancing, and in the most severe countries, a complete lockdown and shutting off the society, forbidding people leaving home except buying food from the supermarket. Cross-border travel now is basically nonexistent. Even the Olympics has to be postponed by a year.
Here in Hong Kong, the precautionary measures taken by our residents based on the lesson learnt 17 years ago and the general distrust of the government have largely prevented an outbreak when the situation in China was the most severe in February, with only occasional cases until mid-March. As the epidemic is becoming out of control in March, overseas citizens are rushing back, causing a new wave of imported cases leading to new measures taken by the government, including mandatory quarantine of everyone travelling back from outside Hong Kong, banning mass gatherings in public places, limiting capacity of restaurants, and closing entertainment venues.
In the past, there is a general hatred against mainland Chinese people, not because of racism but because of the general uncivilised behaviours. When the pandemic started in China, those expats who didn’t wear masks were the target of the hatred because it is known that it is possible to transmit the disease even without symptoms despite the government and WHO saying it is not necessary to wear one if you are healthy. And now, the hatred target are moved to our own citizens who have returned overseas and violated the mandatory quarantine requirement, who are found dining in restaurants with a tracker on their wrist. They have received overseas education which is deemed prestigious yet they are acting even more uncivilised.
We all hope that the pandemic will be over as soon as possible such that we can return to our normal lives in the summer, students resuming schools, travel-holics flying again in the summer holiday, etc. In order to do that, we have to stop new cases for a few weeks in order to make a conclusion that the transmission no longer happens. Currently, imported cases form a majority of the new cases in Hong Kong so we are still under control, but we hope that people can temporary suspend travelling overseas now, and obey the quarantine order after returning for those who are already overseas in order not to spread the disease in the community.