Opinion: I avoided Covid in Hong Kong. Now in the UK, I’ve finally got my luck – and it’s no fun at all

My last three years in Hong Kong were spent trying to avoid contracting COVID-19 or, at the very least, avoid catching it at Penny’s Bay Quarantine Center, better known as Stalag PB.

To my surprise, I succeeded, largely thanks to the many limitations of daily life that we all had to endure. But I expected to immediately catch the virus upon returning to the UK in August 2022, where I had gone from zero-Covid to zero-restrictions.

Somehow, my luck held out. Living in a rural area might have helped. But I made regular trips to London. I began to believe I was immune.

Now, it has become inevitable. After three years of fearing, cursing, and avoiding COVID-19, I’ve caught it. The reality has come to light.

c6b24603 d534 4cae 8644 e4758e432d11 f60200c9
Pedestrians, some wearing face coverings due to COVID-19, walk past shops on Oxford Street in central London on June 7, 2021. Photo: AFP

One morning I woke up and couldn’t face getting out of bed. Everything hurt. I had shivering, sore throat and cough.

Most people here don’t bother to get tested. Free trials are no longer available. The lateral flow test costs £2 (US$2.40). That’s why people generally trouble themselves by saying that they have cold. Of course, this is a good way to spread the virus. Unlike Hong Kong, hardly anyone wears a mask.

But old habits die hard in Hong Kong. I had the lateral flow test but I had to look on the internet to remind myself what to do. In the past, I would have happily watched a single red line appear. This time there were two. My first positive test.

27 hours, 4 suicide attempts: the mental health effects of Hong Kong quarantine

The symptoms of Covid vary greatly. Whatever variant it is, it has completely wiped me out for three days. Don’t like feeling cold at all. On the sixth day, at the time of writing, I am feeling better but not yet cured. My cough is getting worse.

The National Health Service website says most people make a full recovery within 12 weeks. I hope it doesn’t take me that long. I called a doctor for reassurance, which he provided. He said, these days generally Covid-19 is not a big problem.

The virus has hardly been a topic of conversation since returning to Britain. But concerns regarding this have started emerging again. A new variant has caused an outbreak in a care home. Hospital admissions are increasing, even if their base is low. The roll out of the latest booster jab, which was only available to those aged 65 and above and other vulnerable groups, was brought forward.

9f86c965 7540 4868 a86b d2de2498b1b5 0c42f09f
Penny’s Bay Quarantine Center on Lantau Island, Hong Kong on March 1, 2022. Photo: Sam Tsang

Suffering from Covid symptoms is bad enough, but the experience has also evoked grim memories of the bleak world we used to live in, with targeted lockdowns, mandatory testing, quarantine hotels and border closures. Let’s hope those days never come back.

In the meantime, my experience reminds me that COVID-19 may be forgotten, but it is not gone.

Leave a Comment

“The Untold Story: Yung Miami’s Response to Jimmy Butler’s Advances During an NBA Playoff Game” “Unveiling the Secrets: 15 Astonishing Facts About the PGA Championship”