tirsdag 5. mai 2020

Hong Kong's mental health had already been battered by the protests. Then came the coronavirus

Alvin Yau is exhausted. Like other residents in Hong Kong, he hasn't had a break in nearly a year, ricocheting from one crisis to the next. When Hong Kong was consumed by anti-government, pro-democracy protests last year, the 25-year-old banking analyst found himself constantly on edge, unable to sleep at night, and so overwhelmed he once burst into tears in the middle of the street.

The political chaos began calming somewhat in December -- but only weeks later, the first reports emerged of a mysterious new virus across the border in mainland China. The novel coronavirus has since exploded into a global pandemic, infecting more than 3.5 million people globally and killing more than 251,000. In Hong Kong, there have been more than 1,040 cases so far -- relatively low due to months of stringent quarantine measures and closed borders.

But the pandemic dealt a second blow to a population already devastated by six months of violent unrest -- and now, experts warn it could culminate in a mental health crisis. Yau certainly feels the toll. "I feel fatigued, both physically and mentally," he said. "After you go to the protests, you just feel tired. Right now, we don't have protests so we don't have that physical stress, but on the mental side, it's still the same ... I feel very hopeless."