People around the globe are reacting to the coronavirus outbreak. Surgical face masks and alcoholic sanitizers are selling out fast world-wide, but for Hong Kong - these items are becoming increasingly harder to come by.
Leaving home without the protection of surgical masks is not an option. Hong Kong has still not implemented total closure of the border crossings with China; putting the residents of HK at high risk of infection. This of course has caused mass panic and fear across the city with everyone scrambling to try and buy masks, sanitizers and disinfectants for themselves and their family. However, these items have long been in limited supply and there just isn't enough to go around.
The price of surgical masks have surged significantly and have already increased to almost 5 times its usual price.
Stores all over the city are restocking as fast and as many as they can, but the only way to even get a chance of buying a couple of masks is to start queuing up from 5-6am until the stores open. But even queuing for hours does not guarantee there is any left by the time it gets to you!
Supermarket shelves are empty and void of rice, noodles, bread and frozen food items so now even basic food is difficult to come by and grocery food items are also starting to increase in price.
Postal service in the city continues to be suspended following the Chinese New Year festivities and local media reports there being more than one weeks worth of post that have remained unsorted, so any supplies ordered online or sent from friends and family abroad are inaccessible.
I am seeking financial aid to cover the increased costs of living in Hong Kong and for airline tickets to return to my family in the UK before airlines restrict travel from Hong Kong.
Many of us do not have the time to queue up for hours for the possibility of purchasing a couple of masks as many companies are still expecting their employees to show up for work. The only option would be to take unpaid leave or to try our luck on the weekends. Grocery shopping is also getting increasingly difficult for me. Other than weekends, the only time I can pop to the supermarket is after work - by which time many of the shelves have already been emptied out.
The current state of living is a vicious cycle. My partner and I slowly are running low on funds due to increased prices of groceries and surgical masks. Without surgical masks, we will be unable to continue to work. I work for an ecommerce retail company and my husband works in the F&B industry so working from home is not an option for us. This means that we are faced with (non-optional) absence from work without pay when our supply of surgical masks run out. When this happens, we will have no source of income and will face a lot of financial difficulty for groceries and bills.
I thank you for taking the time to read my story and I am very grateful for any contribution that you can make especially during a time when I am faced with many uncertainties ahead.