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Panic buying in Hong Kong amid ‘alarming’ spread of coronavirus

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Panic buying in Hong Kong amid 'alarming' spread of coronavirus

Published at 6:22am 2nd February 2020. (Updated at 8:24am 2nd February 2020) Almost everyone is wearing a surgical mask in the city now. Some have even resorted to donning respirator masks once used to counter the effects of police teargas.

Even Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam wears a facial mask during her news conferences.

It’s an astonishing turnaround given Ms Lam once attempted to ban the wearing of masks during the pro-democracy protests in the city because she viewed them as frustrating the identification of demonstrators.

But a city once wracked by weekly violent protests and firebombing is now facing another crisis – and this one could unite the most diverging political views.

The coronavirus outbreak is inside the city already, having spilled over from the many boundary crossings and transport links Hong Kong has with mainland China.

And the chief executive is once again being heavily criticised for not taking decisive action; not taking it quickly enough and being influenced by her political ties with Beijing rather than prioritising the health and safety of Hong Kongers.

"We just don’t trust the government," one woman says. "And we don’t trust the ‘mainlanders’."We think they will escape any quarantine and go out in Hong Kong and just spread their virus."And that is at the heart of it.Eight months of fierce protests – which have seen demonstrators rampage through the heart of the city virtually every weekend vandalising government structures – has seen a dramatic erosion of trust and respect in the chief executive’s ability to […]

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