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Hong Kong Journalism

Coronavirus Doesn’t Have to Be So Deadly. Just Look at Hong Kong and Singapore

coronavirus Hong Kong Singapore

That’s the headline on my newest story, out Tuesday, which I wrote with my colleague Feliz Solomon. It begins:

Hong Kong and Singapore reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus in January. Four months later, the densely packed Asian metropolises, with a combined population of about 13 million, have seen 27 fatalities between them.

Just 0.4% of those with confirmed infections have died in Hong Kong. In Singapore—less than 0.1%. If the U.S. had a similar fatality rate as the average of the two, its death toll would now stand at about 4,100, rather than 98,000 and growing.

“When you overwhelm health systems a lot more people die,” said David Owens, founder of Hong Kong medical practice OT&P Healthcare, who has treated patients for Covid-19. Hong Kong and Singapore “didn’t let the epidemic run wild.”

The cities’ fatality rates—among the lowest in the world—show that coronavirus outbreaks don’t have to result in large-scale loss of life. Their playbook: test widely, quarantine aggressively and treat patients early to avoid fatal complications and overburdened health systems.

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Hong Kong Journalism

Coronavirus Creeps Back in Hong Kong as Local Transmissions Are Reported

Coronavirus in Hong Kong

That’s the headline on a story I wrote with my colleague Joyu Wang yesterday. It begins:

HONG KONG–After 23 days without a locally transmitted coronavirus case and with much of the city returning to normal life, health officials here are investigating how a 66-year-old woman and her granddaughter tested positive.

The test results, announced Wednesday, illustrate the continuing challenges for authorities world-wide in eliminating the disease even in places that were successful with containment earlier on.

Seven close contacts of the woman have shown symptoms and have been sent to the hospital for testing, officials said Wednesday. The woman has no recent history of travel and hasn’t had contact with known carriers of the disease, officials said. They added that they plan to test residents of their apartment buildings.

The positive results drew a collective sigh from Hong Kongers who have been slowly resuming their normal life routines. Some government health advisers have set a mark of 28 days—or two quarantine periods without a local infection—as a key milestone toward victory over the coronavirus. The two new infections bring the total recorded in the city of about 7.5 million residents to 1,051, with four deaths—which is still relatively low.

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Journalism Travel

Do Not Disturb: Hotels Hammered by Coronavirus Offer 14-Day Quarantine Packages

That’s the headline on my newest story, which I wrote with my colleague Frances Yoon, out Thursday. It begins:

With the coronavirus pandemic pummeling global travel, some hotels are employing a new tactic to boost bookings: targeting guests who face lengthy quarantines.

The risky strategy is a reaction to the unprecedented challenge that the world’s hospitality companies now face, with few people traveling and few likely to do so for some time.

Hotel occupancy rates have plummeted as coronavirus infections have spread throughout the world. In Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, where cases started climbing early in the global crisis, occupancy rates have fallen from about 70% or higher in January to as low as 20% this month, according to hotel data tracker STR. Hotels in the U.S. and Europe are now suffering a similar fate, as the pandemic causes widespread shutdowns and travel restrictions across the country.

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Journalism

Coronavirus Spreads Outside China as Officials’ Worries Mount

That’s the headline on my newest story, out yesterday (Sunday). It begins:

HONG KONG—New cases of coronavirus flared outside China, adding to global health officials’ worries about the spread of the disease in dangerous new pockets of infection.

Iran’s health ministry on Sunday confirmed the eighth coronavirus-related death in the country, out of a total of 43 confirmed cases. The ministry said at least 785 people with coronavirus-like symptoms were being examined.

Pakistani officials said Sunday that the country had sealed its land border with Iran as a result of the outbreak there, though Islamabad made no official announcement.

Pakistan is estimated to have the world’s second biggest Shiite population and about 500 people per day cross the border to Shiite-majority Iran. Travelers are being turned back by Pakistani authorities on the road as they approach the border, officials said.

“This really is a new virus and we’re learning as we go along,” said Margaret Harris, a spokeswoman for the World Health Organization. “We’re seeing some cases that don’t have a clear epidemiological link,” she said.

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