Kung Hei Fat Choy. Hello and welcome to The Pulse. It’s time to welcome the Year of the Rat, but, lamentably, thanks to the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus it’s not a time for everyone to celebrate. Whether the Hong Kong government likes it or not, more people are walking the streets wearing masks. The spread of the virus is accelerating and human to human transition has now been confirmed. On Monday, shortly after President Xi Jinping demanded “resolute efforts to curb the spread of the virus”, many more cases were reported on the mainland. The official death toll almost doubled in one day. As of Friday morning, the official death toll for the virus stands at 25 people. Some 830 cases have been confirmed. Travel bans have been imposed on eight cities in Hubei province including Wuhan. Our producer Yvonne Tong’s been talking to Thomas Tsang, former Controller for the Centre for Health Protection, who’s known for his work combatting bird and swine flu and indeed SARS which is very similar to this new virus.
The Lunar New Year is a major holiday in many parts of Asia, and certainly the most important celebration in the traditional Chinese calendar. Here in Hong Kong, after eight months of protests, the government has decided to cancel many regular celebrations including the fireworks over Victoria Harbour and the New Year Parade. Inevitably the protests have also changed many things for individuals and families. For some, that includes how they’ll be celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Rat.