Coronavirus: What Team YP learned in government quarantine in Hong Kong

People on YP team were sent to government quarantine after a member tested positive. 

From the appeal of a minimalist lifestyle, to the importance of self-discipline, here's what we took away from the experience

Karly Cox |

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Spending time in government quarantine wasn't easy, but Team YP learned some important lessons from the experience.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge affect on all of us. Some members of our YP team recently experienced just how different life can be in quarantine, after they were exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. While it was a shock at first, the team is keen to share what they learned from this experience, and what really mattered most to them.

With limited food options, and only the few clothes and books I brought with me for my week-long stay at the Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village quarantine camp, the experience was the most minimal life I’ve ever led. 

Taking 15 minutes to decide what food delivery I should get seemed like a no-brainer until I didn’t have to think about it at all! (We were asked to pre-select our meals on the first day, and were given only four options for each meal.) With only a small selection of clothes and books, I didn’t – couldn’t – struggle to choose my outfit, earrings, or book of the day.

I wasn’t aware of these tiny changes in my lifestyle until, slowly, I noticed how refreshing and energising my days were when I spent minimal time on seemingly trivial but energy-draining decisions. 

Of course I missed ordering whatever I felt like eating, and wearing my lovely tops; but I’ve learned those freedoms will never be as important as leading a simple lifestyle that benefits my mental well-being. I don’t have the courage to stick to one single dish or throw away most of my stuff yet, but I will definitely be making an effort to reduce the number of decisions I have to make each day, especially in the mornings!  

Nicola Chan, Reporter

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I’m surprised by how much I learned from this experience. 

While I definitely wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of government quarantine – not the least because I was supposed to be leaving Hong Kong to return to Britain, I quickly began sorting things into two categories: things I could control, and things I couldn’t. 

I couldn’t control circumstances, so I tried to stop thinking about them, and focused instead on filling all that new-found free time. 

Another bit of sorting I did was things I could live without, and things I couldn’t. I was amazed by how many things fell into the first category! As soon as I got home, I unpacked my suitcases bound for Britain, and put a quarter of the items into a donation bag. 

What I found that I absolutely could NOT live without was the support of my friends and family. I felt so loved during those 11 days. 

When I was finally able to stand outside and look at the sky again, I felt enormous gratitude. I wouldn’t say it was a positive experience, but it reminded me of all the things I have to be thankful for in my life.

Charlotte Ames-Ettridge, Sub-editor

Charlotte learned that she didn't need as many things as she thought she needed.
Photo: Shutterstock

Being stuck in the quarantine centre made me realise that sometimes we don’t necessarily have to tell the whole story to protect the people we love most, and keep them from worrying. 

Of course, honesty is the best policy, but as much as I wanted to tell my parents the truth, I wasn’t sure they would be able to handle it, since there was no way they would be able to fly 2,585km to Hong Kong without being placed under some sort of quarantine themselves. 

Because of this, I was extra determined to make sure I stayed healthy, ate well, and took my temperature religiously. So this episode has taught me the importance of taking good care of yourself, if you truly care for someone else.  

Doris Wai, Multimedia Editor

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I learned that I don’t need to have so much stuff to live a happy life. During the 10 days I was there, I had four sets of clothing, my laptop and not much else. I realised that I would buy a lot of things in the outside world even though I don’t actually need them or even use them after I get them. 

I think it showed me that material objects should not be the source of happiness, because you can always buy more stuff but it won’t necessarily make you happier, if you are not at peace with yourself or your situation. It made me resolve to live a simpler, less commercial life. 

Jamie Lam, Special Projects Editor

I learned how much people care. While I was in quarantine, many of my friends offered to bring me food and other supplies, and I got calls from people checking in with me. 

The words “government quarantine centre” are kind of scary, and having so many people show their care and concern made me feel better. In a strange way, I think the virus is bringing us closer together; we’re becoming less afraid to reveal ourselves, or to show people how we feel about them. 

Dannie Higginbotham, Web Editor 

Dannie said she was touched by how many people offered to drop off food and other supplies for her.
Photo: Shutterstock

I learned that self-discipline is very important, especially when it seems like you have got all the time in the world. I tried so hard not to be lazy and binge-watch Netflix all day. 

So every morning I woke up and stretched and made myself a drink, then I read and caught up with my family and friends on FaceTime. 

Later during the day, I would go for a walk with two friends who were at the same quaratine camp – we were lucky enough to be allowed to exercise outside every day. 

Having a schedule meant my crazy week felt as normal as it possibly could.

Joanne Ma, Reporter

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During my stay in quarantine, I lived a minimal lifestyle. I was surprised to learn I could fit all my essentials into one small suitcase and my days felt free from desire. 

With limited resources and options, I learned to be more creative with what I had on hand. For example, I didn’t bring any hand cream with me, but my hands were cracked and dry. I grabbed my hair conditioner and gave my hands a “moisturising mask”. 

I used my suitcase as a side table, and some old T-shirts to make a yoga mat so I could work out in the room. 

Of course, they were just temporary solutions, but the simplicity of life while I was there inspired me to get rid of belongings I don’t need in my life.

Kelly Fung, Editorial Assistant 

I learned how important it is to maintain a routine and a healthy lifestyle. 

More than anything, I really struggled with not being allowed to go outside for a walk and some fresh air. The skies were so clear and blue during our time in quarantine, and that made me sadder. But I thought I needed to make the best out of a not-so-great situation. 

So I started waking up at the same time daily, doing home workouts and setting time aside to read. I wrote, and I made sure to FaceTime with my friends and family every day. That helped me get through the loneliness.  

Rhea Mogul, Reporter