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I tested positive for Covid-19 twice in two cities. The answers are very different.

Hong Kong (CNN) — As someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 It was positive in both the UK and Hong Kong. I’ve had the worst of both worlds.

On the one hand, I was the victim of a complete failure to detect the spread of the disease. and another case I’m stuck with an active system that is determined to eradicate COVID-19 completely.

The real tragedy of this epidemic is that the virus has killed nearly four million people worldwide. But it has a broad impact as well. After going through four quarantines The times when I actually had COVID-1

9 were the least painful. For me, the pandemic measures were more difficult to manage than the disease itself.

I am French-English Husband is British we live in hong kong Where there are measures against COVID-19 the most stringent in the world

Non-Current Residents are not permitted. Inbound travelers must self-isolate in the hotel at their own expense. and if you are in contact with a positive patient You can be taken to government internment camps for at least 14 days. Some parents are separated from their children if a family member tests positive.

I tested positive for the first time in the summer of 2020 when we took our 4-month-old daughter to family in the UK. At that time, Asia was still on the alert for COVID. But our friends in the UK say the worst is over. Yes, we will be in home quarantine for 14 days when we return to Hong Kong, but for us, the sacrifice was worth it for our family to meet our baby. we and we promise to be careful

COVID culture shock

looking back I realize how naive we are. In Hong Kong people are embarrassed for not wearing masks. Temperatures are taken before entering any public places. And cleaners will disinfect elevators and escalator handrails every hour.

in the UK Few people wore masks. including waiters in pubs and restaurants I am angry that strangers not eating our food were seen as a problem during the pandemic.

Less than a week after we arrived in the UK My father is infected with covid and my mother did then i did My husband and child tested negative. But a few days later there were symptoms.

My only difficulty breathing was from the panic attacks I had the morning after our test results.

When we detect positive symptoms shortly There is still the possibility that one of us will be seriously ill. The first few nights I barely slept. I checked to see if my child was breathing before sneaking down to the ground below to check that my parents were still breathing.

My worst symptoms occurred four days after testing positive. But it’s nothing more than a cold and cough. over time We all relaxed and decided to enjoy the garden as we waited for the end of our quarantine. We knew that we were able to get out of the car comfortably. looking back It was a beautiful detention.

Back in Hong Kong, it’s very different.

back to hong kong

At first I was relieved to be back in a city where everyone was serious about the virus. We will postpone our return for a few more weeks to ensure we are fully recovered.

My husband and I decided he would go forward to see if he had tested positive when he arrived. He didn’t, which convinced us that I wouldn’t either. So I followed up with my daughter shortly thereafter. At that time, inbound travelers were not required to provide evidence of a negative pre-flight test.

But early after landing in Hong Kong I got a call from “Unknown number” before I answer. I instinctively knew it was bad news.

a woman asked my name Where did I sit on the plane and who did I talk to?

My heart was deteriorating: I knew she was on track – and I tested positive.

an ambulance is coming I will take you to the hospital

I called my husband in tears. Keep your bags and baby waiting. I don’t know which hospital I’m going to. or my child can be with me, she can; The doctor knew I had an old infection. So they say it’s safe.

in infectious disease wards We have daily COVID testing and check in with doctors every day. I can only be discharged after two consecutive negative tests.

I start to despair I’ve been positive for six weeks. Will I be trapped in this room for another six? Visitors and medical staff are not allowed to enter my room with protective clothing only. nervousness boredom and loneliness seeps into me I feel like a prisoner

One doctor noticed my agitation increased. Agreed to refer me to a hospital psychologist. which I have seen at least once a month since then. when i was in the hospital Management is pretty easy. And the video of the psychologist called me the next day. But the service is not available in the city’s other detention centers, they said.

It took 10 days to get two consecutive elusive negatives to “pass the threshold” for discharge. But my elation was gone when the full-time nurse told me frankly. That social work is coming to pick up my 5-month-old daughter to take her into official quarantine for 14 days “because she’s close,” I said.
at a hospital in Hong Kong

at a hospital in Hong Kong

Pauline Lockwood/CNN

My reaction was hysterical. Fortunately, my doctor was as enraged as I was. and persuaded Hong Kong health officials to let my daughter quarantine with me at home.

This was a real victory. Although my husband, who had just completed a 14-day quarantine at home the night before, had to detain us again for two weeks.

It took me a few weeks to fully recover my mental state. The stress of all the hospital uncertainty kept me awake. I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare I was stuck with.

After a series of traumatic cases in which parents have been separated from their children, the government said in March that “For the case where children are involved Each and every decision is for the benefit of the children and their families.”

quarantine three

When Hong Kong began easing COVID restrictions in early March I returned to my usual routine.

a week later The “unknown number” appeared on my screen again.

This time, I got closer to the infected person at my gym. and is required to self-isolate at a government internment camp for 14 days.

View from our room during government detention

View from our room during government detention

Pauline Lockwood/CNN

My initial reaction was panic. My hospital memories remain fuzzy. But at least this time my husband and children came with me. We all tested negative the next day.

The rooms in the Penny Bay concentration camp were slightly over 150 square feet (14 square meters). Staff installed an extra cot next to the two single beds, which didn’t leave much room for our children. which at that time was 10 months old

We are not allowed to leave the room. open a window or door Food and essentials are delivered through windows in small plastic bags by staff in safety gear.

The food is chosen from quite a variety of menus. But the food is still not very appetizing. Few weeks after our stay There has been a food poisoning outbreak and catering companies have changed.

It is possible to get items delivered, although the practice is discouraged. The list and all pictures of the item must be sent via Whatsapp for approval before they can be sent.

We were never told why such strict measures were taken.

Getting Covid-19 is a shame in Hong Kong. I didn’t dare tell people that I had because I was worried that I would be judged. My rheumatologist told me that I was very stupid and selfish to go back to England. I’m still struggling to understand why sick people feel guilty.

Vaccination era

The system in Hong Kong has worked for the city up to a point. Covid is no longer a concern. There has been one local outbreak case in the last 14 days, and few cases in over a month. with extremely effective touch tracking Therefore, only a few people sacrificed for the safety of many.

in March The government has announced that people over the age of 30 are eligible for the vaccine. and a few weeks later So are those over 18 when I heard about this expansive launch. I feel very hopeful and relieved. It holds the promise that life will return to normal. But that’s not to be. Vaccination here makes little tangible difference. and there is no waiver of any restrictions

Disappointments remain high among Hong Kong’s expat community. which is an important group in the city’s financial sector The only way we can resume normal life is through herd immunity. Most Hong Kong residents are not interested in getting vaccinated. Although a highly efficient booking system has been launched since February.

In a city of seven million people, 19.7 percent received the Sinovac or BioNTech vaccine twice.

A few concessions were made. Vaccinated travelers have reduced hotel quarantine from 21 to 14 or 7 days if returning from a small group of countries. which is considered less risky

On Monday 21 June, the Hong Kong government announced that vaccinated travelers who recently tested positive would only be quarantined at the hotel for 7 days, but the UK has just been added to the list of quarantines. high risk This requires a 21-day hotel quarantine regardless of vaccination status.

and for the first time in more than a year that outsiders may be allowed to enter the city in the coming weeks

Now, three months from my last quarantine. I’m considering a three-week hotel quarantine in the fall. Really hope this will be my last time. This is my choice to make aware of Hong Kong’s requirements for re-entry. My family in England was not only desperate to build a rapport with my daughter. But they have gone through various milestones. In a life that needs my help and attention

I was always concerned about how being locked in a room for three weeks would affect my daughter. Will the benefits of visiting her family outweigh the disadvantages? I really don’t know Some friends think I’m crazy many people support

released from government quarantine in Hong Kong

released from government quarantine in Hong Kong

Pauline Lockwood/CNN

Travel restrictions due to COVID-19 the strictness of the city coupled with the deteriorating political situation This means that foreign friends and colleagues are very different. I hear a new departure every day.

I completely understand the impulse. But because we love Hong Kong So I hope my husband, daughter, and I can be together until the world sees the back of COVID-19.

Of course, the city needs to act in the best interests of its people. And it has undoubtedly saved many people from death through a brutal “covid center” policy, unlike my home country.

When we moved to Hong Kong We know the city is on the other side of the world. but with modern travel Never felt that far It’s always possible to go home within a day.

But that’s not the case anymore. The pandemic makes the world feel as big as it really is.

Pauline Lockwood is CNN’s senior news editor based at the Asia-Pacific network’s Hong Kong headquarters.

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