Social anxiety and wanderlust are among Covid-19 pandemic’s lingering impact on Hong Kong
- Even though Hong Kong is slowly returning to normal after the pandemic, its effects still weigh on our daily lives
- Many students still wear masks out of health concerns or social anxiety, and local travellers are eager to get out of the city and see the world
A recent holiday in Thailand got me reflecting on just how much damage the Covid-19 pandemic has done to all of us. A series of studies and surveys are showing just how deep the hurt has been, and how the effects continue to linger for many people.
Checking the dates of the last visit from passport chops, I realised with a sense of horror we had not been physically close for more than three years. In the interim, two of the children had become teenagers and the third had reached double figures in age. I had missed out on some of their most formative years.
But it’s not only me, and it’s not only Thailand. We have all had three years ripped out of our lives. That is time we will never get back.
The ultimate loss was suffered by the millions who actually died, and we should mourn their passing. But the immediate family of the deceased and close friends also suffered a loss, their grief severe and made especially acute if the obstacles to international travel removed the opportunity for a last goodbye.
Here in the Mid-Levels, we are surrounded by secondary schools and every day, in the middle of summer with temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius and humidity through the roof, hundreds of children can be seen gasping for air as they struggle to get to class. A few have started to go mask-free, but most still wear them. We must ask why.
A separate study, conducted by the Institute of Higher Education and Chinese University, found that more than half of primary and secondary students surveyed had moderate to severe depression or stress issues. The study was looking for a possible link between mental health and playing video games online.
Putting all these pieces of the puzzle together, we start to get a picture of the effects of the pandemic on Hongkongers’ mindset. They are worried. They have had a fresh reminder of the impermanence of life, have just lost three years of it and feel there’s no time to lose.
Each of us will take different lessons from the pandemic experience. I will look with more sympathy on those who continue to show signs of anxiety or depression. And I plan to spend a lot more time with my family, to hell with the expense.
Mike Rowse is the CEO of Treloar Enterprises