Everyone should just take the month off

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 7 Feb 2020

Smart Hongkongers are turning life in "Plague City" into a positive thing - as this columnist discovered by talking to those who are visiting country parks.

"People who won't starve if they stop working should make the situation into an opportunity," one told me. 1) Walk in the forest. 2) Lose your holiday kilos. 3) Get back in the reading habit. 4) Shrug off the loss of income. 5) Catch up on great movies.

A man who paused his business said: "Money isn't everything. It would be lovely if everyone in Hong Kong took a month off."

I was reminded of when I was a junior court reporter and a lawyer told me about a wonderful legal concept: house arrest.

You go to your own sofa in your own home and are strictly forbidden to go to work.

"That's a punishment?" I said. "What do I have to do to get it?"

* * *

Another large group of happy Hong Kong citizens are our one million children.

Teachers are offering lectures and slideshows over the internet - but aren't techie enough to know who is watching and for how long.

"I log in to the school online teaching system and then mute the video signal and go play on my Nintendo Switch," one teenager told me.

* * *

Investment bankers at CSLA were cheered after talking to top Hong Kong virus expert John Nicholls in a conference call.

The mortality rate for cases outside China is less than 1 percent, Nicholls believes.

It's higher within China because the number of cases is under-reported.

He believes the new coronavirus's real mortality rate could be low, between 0.8 percent and 1 percent. "So a correct comparison is not with SARS or MERS but a severe cold," he said.

* * *

Staying with the theme of health (or lack of it), reader Scott Smyth spotted this Marlboro cake in a Hong Kong bakery. "I suppose birthday boy could have cigarettes for candles," he said.

* * *

Hong Kong's Filipina domestic helpers panicked after their country's leader Roddy Duterte banned them from returning home, despite the fact that, if they stay past their contract dates, they can be jailed.

Hong Kong government officials told Filipinas not to worry as they would extend their visas. It's great when people work together in a crisis to solve problems, rather than add new ones. [Anti-government bombers please note.]

* * *

Ultra-gullible people who believe the wild rumors sent out by anti-government people have not only cleared shop shelves of rice, but they bought all the condoms too, I heard from reader David McIntyre. "That's good," he added. "We don't want idiots breeding."

* * *

A Hong Kong dinner party I was supposed to attend tomorrow has been canceled--despite the fact that all the people invited were in perfect health and none had been to mainland China.

The problem? The host's husband's company has decreed that staff cannot attend any gathering which includes any other person who has earlier been at any other gathering at which any other person recently visited any part of mainland China.

That's life in Hong Kong today.

* * *

How to tell if you taxi driver is a panicky person who believes what they read on Twitter: 1) He's wearing a hazmat suit. 2) He makes you ride in the trunk of the car.

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