Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Hygiene supreme

Think of your most anally retentive friend. You know, the ones who wash their hands 20 times a day, who disinfect everything, who don't want their kids touching anything outside the house, and very few things in it due to risk of germs. Well that is the attitude to hygiene in Hong Kong, and I am sure it has got a lot to do with the SARS outbreak that hammered this city not that long ago.

There are not many ways to get attention in Hong Kong. It is an already loud city with people who keep to themselves most of the time, but cough in public and feel the room look at you out of the corners of their eyes. Sneeze, and expect to feel the daggers of one thousand death stares. I haven't yet had the gall to do both lest someone throw something at me, but I am sure I will one day get drunk enough to substantiate the goodness and social discovery intents of the idea. Everyone who is sick walks around wearing face masks (which must really screw with smoking) and there are notices up announcing every public facility which is disinfected. @StephChev, a Hong Kong based tweeter announced that she did not see the reason for a disinfected carpet, and attached this picture:
These signs are everywhere. On escalator handles, lift buttons, ticket machines, carpets - you name it. There are machines offering free hand sanitiser all over the place and signs up in the MTR (metro/tube/whatever you call it) trains and stations calling for good health practices to be observed - meaning wash your hands and cover your face.

Civil servants cleaning the streets and cleaning dustbins understandably all wear gloves and facemasks, but so do many waiters and waitresses, shop assistants, random people walking around and the guy who drives the Victoria Peak Tram - evidently terrified of the germs left behind by whoever drove the train before him.

So when you come and visit here, bring a hanky or a tissue or something to sneeze into, lest you get held under a sanitizer dispenser by a softly baying crowd who believe the germs in your snot may have wafted across the room.

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