Samoan dancer in Hong Kong shares coronavirus experience

A Samoan working as a fire knife dancer with the Walt Disney Company’s Hong Kong subsidiary has spoken of the challenges he’s faced as the coronavirus swept through the region.

Hong Kong, which is a special administrative region of China, has been spared the wrath of the coronavirus which infected over 80,000 people on the Chinese mainland (Hubei Province) and claimed 3,182 lives.

Since the outbreak, Hong Kong has only recorded 641 confirmed cases and four deaths as well as the recovery of 112 patients.

Osmond Atonio, of Tufuiopa, told Samoa Observer he was among staff, who took time off from Hong Kong Disneyland on January 26 this year, due to the global pandemic.

“Hong Kong has done a good job minimising the spread of the virus, considering the proximity to China and the border being open at the start of all this,” he said.

“But here it is evident that normal life is not underway. Life seems a bit odd, definitely not normal. Everyone is wearing masks, temperature checks in lots of buildings, and now limit on how many per table in public places.”

With a population of over seven million residents and considered one of Asia’s top financial centres, Hong Kong is often described as a city that never sleeps due to its strategic location.

But the onset of COVID-19 has left most of its streets deserted, which Mr Atonio said is rare and unnerving for its residents.

“Movie theaters and parks are closed, the streets are very empty and there is a nervous energy in the air. I have not been into work since January 26th. A return date is still yet to be decided.”

The authorities in Hong Kong are yet to lift the lockdown as well as travel restrictions, but Mr Antonio is determined to stay on.

“I intend to stay here in Hong Kong once the lockdown is lifted,” he revealed.

The city has a number of Samoan residents with Mr Antonio saying they do keep in touch.

“About a dozen Samoans here in Hong Kong, but everyone has their families as well with them. The Samoan community here is always connected and talking. Everyone is spending time outdoors away from large crowds or staying at home with their family. All the Samoans here are okay,” he added.

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