Nice work at home if you can get it

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 12 Feb 2020

You can bank on people doing stupid things during uncertain times, but a group of management trainees at Hang Seng Bank took stupidity to a new level.

The bank gave staff permission to work from home during the coronavirus scare but a group of half a dozen or so decided to go hiking in a country park when they were supposed to be slaving away at home behind their computers.

They thought it would be a great idea to pose for a thumbs-up photo and upload it on the internet for everyone to see.

The bank was not amused, saying it was treating the incident seriously and had reminded the young trainees of the guidelines for working from home.

Seems like these management trainees have a lot to learn about acting responsibly as they climb the corporate ladder.

* * *

China has locked down hundreds of millions of people in the biggest quarantine operation in world history - and Hong Kong people caught up in it have revealed how it was done.

A Hong Kong reader of this newspaper [let's call him "Mr L"] was at his holiday home in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, when extraordinary things started to happen.

"Thewhole ofour townwasbroken up into sections of about two square kilometers," he told us by e-mail.

The barriers had been cleverly laid so that every community of streets had its own supermarket and a fresh vegetable market.

The bustling city of seven million instantly became a quiet network of self-sufficient villages.

Each family had to designate a single shopper who could leave the house every other day.

"There's no panic, and the shops are full of food," Mr L added, saying that he was shocked to hear about panic-buying in Hong Kong.

"Whilesome peoplein theWest like tocriticize the Chinese Communist Party, onemust surely admit thatthey can dothingsfor goodthatcould never be done in the 'free' Western world."

* * *

The Hong Kong government released some health information yesterday: "Do not travel to Hubei Province where community transmission of novel coronavirus is occurring."

Why would they say this? All transport links to Hubei stopped a long time ago. Are they worried we may try to walk the 900 kilometers?

* * *

While all eyes are on the new coronavirus in China, staff at this city's Centre for Health Protection are watching an alarming outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease right here in Hong Kong.

There have been nine cases in the past two weeks--and the disease's death rate ranges from 5 percent to 10 percent - far, far worse than the 2 percent mortality rate of the new coronavirus.

Why such a muted reaction? One reason may be that one disease appeared in China, while the other emerged in the United States.

* * *

Toto, the Japanese company that makes the water-spray toilet, is celebrating having sold 50 million of them. I think a sales push in Hong Kong this week could add several million more, right?

* * *

Reader Angus MacKillop spoke to a 16-year-old who wasn't in the least worried about the new coronavirus. "I'm fine. It's an old folks' thing," he said.

I mentioned this to a doctor friend, who said the youngster was right.

"The smartest thing to do would be to replace all the doctors and nurses in hospitals with their own children. But somehow I don't think anyone's going to like that idea."

Cool. I feel a Hollywood movie script coming on.

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