Coronavirus outbreak: impact on expats in Hong Kong
Expats and their families have been significantly affected due to the ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. The spread of the virus shows no sign of abating as Hong Kong’s healthcare system and government struggle to contain the disease. Many expats are wondering how the coronavirus pandemic will play out in the coming months, as the closure of schools and offices is having a major impact on their everyday lives.
In this article by Pacific Prime Hong Kong, we will look at the impact on expats and their children and offer some tips to help expats get through this uncertain period.
International schools closed until further notice
Hong Kong’s government closed schools on February 3rd, as the spread of the coronavirus accelerated across China and began seeping across borders, including Hong Kong. Expat parents are now concerned about the future of their children’s education and whether schools can ensure the safety of their children. One of the solutions to resolve the dilemma of not being able to send children to school is virtual teaching.
Currently, schools have resorted to virtual lessons that are conducted over the course of each school day. Many, if not all international schools have moved lessons usually taught in class to online platforms, conducting classes via online video conferencing, and providing assignments that students have to complete in set time frames, along with other adapted lessons such as online music, art, and physical education.
Setting up an environment for education at home
No parent had anticipated that having children at home when they should be at school would be so problematic. For many expat parents, ensuring that their children are able to access online classes, means purchasing certain devices including laptops, personal computers, printers, and tablets. Expat parents may find the situation financially taxing, given the resources needed to give their children access to their normal educational curriculum.
Establish a routine to give children stability at home
Pupils in Hong Kong are finding the situation challenging and quite isolating, especially because they are used to a routine of attending classes and socially interacting with their schoolmates. Here here are a few tips to consider for children studying at home.
- Routines provide structure to the day or a task, but also a sense of safety, which helps children to be ready to learn and develop. Additionally, a routine at home will help children to remain focused, occupied, and motivated.
- Parents can create family schedules from waking up in the morning to bedtime. Simple things like getting the children to dress in regular school clothes, instead of lounging in pajamas, can help normalize a non-normal situation.
- Routines should also include breaks to give children the chance to stretch and relieve their attention and to socialize with their school friends. Allow your kids to use apps for communicating, so they can openly share their thoughts and feelings. Social interaction is the key to preventing isolation and loneliness for children.
Expats parents working from home
The impact of coronavirus has also forced many expats to work from home, similar to how their children have to study from home as discussed above. Businesses across Hong Kong began closing offices in January when the virus began spreading from China, with many planning to open only when the pandemic dies down.
So, with new mechanisms in place for expats to work from home during the pandemic, here are a few tips to consider:
Reduce the feeling of loneliness
Communication is key to ensuring tasks are completed efficiently, but also to prevent individuals from feeling isolated and developing mental health problems. In 2019, a study of 2,500 remote workers by online brand development agency Buffer, found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge, experienced by 19% of respondents. Loneliness can make people feel lost at times, less motivated and unproductive.
Utilize apps for communication
To avoid such a feeling, employees are encouraged to report to their colleagues and discuss matters via channels like messaging, or video-conferencing apps set up by work. Having a 10-minute chat with the manager at the beginning of the day will help set objectives to follow and execute.
Create a workplace environment at home
Expats can benefit from having a home office to boost productivity and have the right resources to complete work. Setting boundaries so other members of the family know that you are working, will help limit distractions. Regardless of the setup, it is important to agree with others sharing the same space on your work schedule, so everyone respects your time and space.
Can health insurance offset the cost of being treated in Hong Kong?
Before the emergence of Covid- 19, health insurance policies would exclude the treatment of all diseases that are considered an ‘epidemic’ or ‘pandemic’, but many plans now, especially the international plans, have started to feature coverage for the coronavirus.
Plans are likely to differ depending on the insurer and certain aspects, such as age and pre-existing conditions, which can affect the premiums. It is easier to consult a long-standing and reliable insurance brokerage, such as Pacific Prime Hong Kong to help find a plan that is individually tailored and within budget.
While being at home can help reduce contact with individuals that are potentially infected, the chances of the virus going away soon remain to be seen.
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His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.