Out of the frying pan, into the firing line

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 14 Feb 2020

US President Donald Trump decreed that all American government employees in Hong Kong can flee the city on full pay at any time to return to the United States.

This is after one person - yes, ONE PERSON - died of the new coronavirus in Hong Kong.

American consulate staff are considering whether they should fly back to the US, where 16,200 people are murdered in an average year.

Good luck.

* * *

Teachers in Hong Kong groaned at yesterday's news that the schools closure will be extended to the middle of next month.

Most have now mastered the skills of remote teaching through computers - but keep finding things that are really tricky to get students to do at home, like chemistry practicals.

"Now, children, warn mummy that there may be a BIIIG noise as we make massive fireballs using potassium chlorate. First, we light fires "

* * *

How do physical education teachers do their bit remotely? Do they Skype students and shout at them?

"Get off the sofa NOW!"

* * *

The new MTR line which opens today has been "democracy" proofed.

Instead of glass windows, which were smashed by protesters last year, there are plastic panels.

Staff are no longer trapped in help centers. They roam around with portable octopus machines, so they can run to safety if need be. Protesters injured 20 MTR staff last year.

Help centers are fire resistant, after numerous firebomb attacks last year.

It's sad that MTR staff needed to do this.

* * *

Reader Semirah Darwin thought of an interesting answer to the mask shortage, as pictured--and it makes use of all the extra toilet rolls people bought.

* * *

Education supremo Kevin Yeung threw a lifeline to people who run our silent, empty kindergartens yesterday. [No remote lessons for babies.]

He said that he'd count the infants who attended in early January and pay educational cash subsidies as if they were all still coming to school every day.

* * *

In Central on Tuesday, I noted that 99 percent of Asian people were wearing masks while only about half of Westerners wore them. In a coffee shop, a multilingual young Chinese woman told me she wasn't surprised. Her theory: "Chinese language newspapers are significantly more hysterical than English language ones."

* * *

Panicky people are shunning hotpot. "I'm concerned about the level of science knowledge in this town," said Tom Guendert. "It's not the 100C boiling water that is infecting people."

Doctors agree that it is not spread by the food, but by the crowded conversations in the restaurant.

Reader Tang Kin-ching uploaded to social media a picture of his own family of three eating home-made hotpot in his own home. "My friends went crazy," he said.

* * *

Cinemas on the Broadway circuit have made mask-wearing compulsory, I heard from the above-mentioned Semirah. "Wonder how they're going to enforce it once you get inside?" Reader Bob Hardy laughed: "I guess no popcorn allowed, then."

* * *

A property developer offered a lucky number in a bid for a piece of land in Tuen Mun: HK$2.888 billion, meaning easy-rich-rich-rich, it was revealed yesterday.

The Lands Department opted for a HK$3.5 billion bid by Kaisa Group Holdings instead. Cute number tricks only get you so far, you know.

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