As life returns to normal elsewhere while Hong Kong tightens anti-pandemic constraints, more expatriates find themselves conflicted about where their future lies. Frustrated and uncertain, many are going home, or relocating to Singapore for example, often with families. The exodus includes mainland talent. There is no sign of it tapering off. This is not good for an international city. Officially Hong Kong suffered a net outflow of 71,000 people in February alone. Over the past three years, perceptions of the city as a place to settle have been pummelled by anti-government protests, a new national security law and pandemic measures. In the latest annual liveability rankings compiled by ECA International, the city slipped 19 places to 77th out of 490 cities. Other figures tend to be anecdotal. But, for example, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, a European Union envoy recently told the government that 10 per cent of EU citizens had left the city over the past year. Hong Kong has chosen its path of resistance to the virus. Sadly, many expatriates who had confidence in it would prefer to live more normally – with the virus – somewhere else. A reluctant decision to start over again is wrenching. Emotions can take over. They soared with a social media uproar over the separation of a British mother from her infected 11-month-old baby in Queen Mary Hospital under a Covid isolation policy. The British and Australian consulates slammed the separation. Many would empathise. At a time of rampant contagion amid hospital overcrowding, it highlights difficult issues. The Hospital Authority has since said that so long as space and infection control allows, staff will arrange for a parent and child who tested positive to stay together. Hong Kong falls to 77th spot in liveability ranking for expats But concerns must still be addressed. Hospital infection control rules may be meaningless unless applied equally to everyone. But Hong Kong must try to apply them compassionately as well as without fear or favour. Home isolation of mild cases could help. Although the incident may be isolated, it dramatises the importance of clear messaging. The decision to focus unambiguously on care of the elderly and reducing the death toll before embarking on mass testing should counter confusion and restore confidence.