What's So Funny and What's Not So Funny With The Wuhan Pneumonia Outbreak
Updated: Jan 24
Yes, usually I write about photography and the business of photography. However, considering that most of you that read my articles are photographers that travel frequently, I thought I would take a break and talk about the the #wuhanpneumoniaoutbreak in China.
Firstly, I am speaking on behalf of someone that lives in Hong Kong and is very close to the infected area of Wuhan. However, having spent a majority of my life #canada, and knowing how a large number of our fellow Chinese friends have either immigrated or is often travelling to the west due to business dealings with our western counterparts, I believe you share my concerns.
So What's So Funny?
Our government has still not considered the situation in Wuhan as an outbreak, and just today even sent out a specialist to convince the public that the situation is being controlled. 1700 infected cases! Are you %$@#! kidding me? What exactly is the Hong Kong government waiting for? Is there are magic number of deaths we need to reach, we don't know about? It's obvious enough that the suspect cases are growing and from our experience during SARS it's most like that 1700 is already an understated number.
Ok, so let's say the Chinese has not officially considered the situation to be an outbreak. Is there not better measures we could take to protect ourselves. Many Americans online have suggested that they should accept any Chinese travellers at the moment. While I think it may be of small help but such measures are not effective (travellers could easily stopover elsewhere to avoid such restrictions, and if Americans are simply pinpointing Chinese by ethnicity, well guess what there are a lot of foreign "gweilo's" doing business in Wuhan as well.
The problem isn't how well you (everyone else other than China) protect yourself but whether (1) the people infected (Wuhan Chinese) know they carry such a serious infectious illness and (2) whether the country of origin to this outbreak is doing enough to contain it?
The Mask Scare is a joke as well. Hong Kongers are running around for these face masks and of course these drugs stores are telling these poor scared people that they are running out of supply?
There's about 7.x million people in Hong Kong and let's say everyone wanted to get these face masks right? Well a box of face masks (50 per pack) can pretty much last an individual well over a month. Of course we will have people that are greedy and selfish and probably buying 10x of what is needed right? Regardless consider 8 million boxes is the demand at the moment (because not everyone wears face masks). Of course for Hong Kong to have 8 million boxes at this given moment may be challenging but it's definitely something the government can guarantee. 8 million boxes may sound a lot to you and me (the average joe), but for anyone who is in manufacturing, 8 million boxes is probably 2 or 3 months of production quota for an individual plant, never mind how many brands of face masks are available in the market.
Think about it, you are normally selling 10-20 boxes of face masks a week at a drug store all of a sudden the demand goes up by like 100 times. You think they would not jack up the price and hold back the supply on store racks? The government should not trust drug stores to not take advantage of this business opportunity and can really avoid this.
If the government can somehow guarantee a sufficient supply not only can they give confidence but they can also deter any face mask seller from the thought of speculating prices. But of course they have done nothing, and we keep seeing signs saying face masks are sold out or even how it now costs $50 for one %$@#! face mask ($50 should really get you about 50, so you do the math).
Some of you may still not be convinced about the exaggerated hype on face masks. Now I don't question the demand has gone up and up by a lot but is it to a point where we really don't have enough supply is the question. First of all, do you see a lot of people buying face mask by the bulk at your neighbourhood drug store or medical supply shop? I hardly even see people even buying them. Secondly, our mainland counterparts is well-known for many things but one thing they are particularly well-known for is their ability to buy up everything that they think is in high demand. Yes, they are still doing that but with seafood, milk powder, and diapers, but I don't see mainlanders buying up face masks here in Hong Kong.
The problem with the current situation in Wuhan and how the HKSAR government is handling the situation is that it seems we have learned nothing from SARS. Don't give any official government statement or person the benefit of the doubt. How many people must die this time in order for us to realise the seriousness of this outbreak.
May I offer the following suggestions?
*Firstly, for those that are buying these masks in outrageous numbers (if any), please be thoughtful. Hey man, if you are thinking you will need all these face masks by then, the world will be heavily infected and the face masks won't do much.
*Hong Kong government should source out a huge supply of face mask (since the hospitals need it anyways), and offer a systematic method for Hong Kong citizens to acquire them. Rather than spend billions on bridges and on abandoned ferry terminals that Hong Kongers don't ever use.
*Is there even a travel warning to Wuhan? We can start there.
As political tensions rises in this former colony over the legitimacy of its governance, I can see why people are furious. I wanted to avoid politics in this article and maybe I can, cause it has nothing to do with politics and actually the competence of the regime. What's holding Hong Kong back? Same question many ask about the government holding back to keep the city in order during the riots in the previous months. Are they afraid to act? or simply don't know how to and are afraid to ask?