let's call it crab flu ...

I've been feeling a bit whiny lately about the Hong Kong government's decision to close all primary schools/kindergartens/nurseries, etc. It means that most other classes and playgroups we attend are closed as well, and now they've closed our building's beloved playroom, along with all the government-run indoor playrooms. And before you think I'm too much of a spoiled brat, remember that in HK there are no such thing as yards, and very few expanses of grass for kids to run around in. There are great playgrounds, but they almost universally have no shade and have a black rubber ground surface, which renders the area and the equipment so hot that they are virtually unusable this time of year. So, we're back to the stairwells, playing in the lobby and going to the beach whenever it's not raining. (Admittedly not a bad back-up option, though the rain clause is important.) 

I had been feeling whiny, that is, until I remembered two things about Hong Kong that make dealing with diseases a little bit different. My Hong Kong culture/history book puts the population density here as 35,700 per square km (numbers differ--this one represents the northern side of the island and Kowloon put together, but doesn't include the mountains or New Territories.) This is right up there with Mumbai, Karachi and Beijing. New York's population density, on the other hand, is 17,400/sq. km, London's is 4761/sq. km, and Tokyo's is 13, 416/sq. km. 

The other aspect is just due to the character of Hong Kong, as a metropolis in transit. As opposed to NY, London, Tokyo or other "world" cities, which, in my admittedly unstudied opinion, see themselves as the center of the world, with all things coming there, HK really sees itself as the hub of the world--all things pass through here.  

Put those two things together (extremely high density and constant international transit) and you have a territory that is extremely vulnerable, and still traumatized by the memory of SARS. I'm still not convinced that closing schools and playgroups was necessary, but I do understand why they made the decision they did.     

Now we're just praying that my mother-in-law shows no symptoms of illness when she arrives at the airport tonight, nor do any of her seatmates, either of which could land her in quarantine.

1 comment:

mndendi said...

also is my high school history coming back to me?p--wasn't there a Hong Kong flu when my parents were young?