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Bermudian family quarantined in Hong Kong

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A Bermudian family were quarantined in their Hong Kong home due to the coronavirus pandemic just weeks after they moved to the region.

Nijah Dyer, her husband, Shannon, and their children, Adrianna and Julius, moved to the city last December for Mr Dyer's job as a lawyer.

Less than a month later, Hong Kong had a handful of cases of Covid-19 and the Government imposed drastic measures to limit the outbreak, including the closure of schools and government offices.

However, Mrs Dyer, who worked in marketing and events on the island, said: “There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

She added: “Coronavirus really became an issue for us during the Chinese New Year holiday, the week of January 27, when we first heard about the virus.

“School was out and due to resume on February 3 but we were informed that schools would be out until February 18, then we were told March 16, then we were told April 20.”

She said it was now rumoured that secondary schools would reopen next month and primary schools would have a later, staggered return.

Mrs Dyer added: “Because my kids are in preschool and Primary Two, we are told their school may resume around May 11, but nothing is confirmed.”

The draconian approach by the Hong Kong Government appeared to have worked, with a total of 157 cases recorded by Monday and four deaths.

Mrs Dyer told The Royal Gazette that her family at first self-quarantined for 14 days and continued to wear masks outside and use social-distancing.

She added that her children were now in their eighth week of home-schooling.

Mrs Dyer said Adrianna, 6, received an e-mail every day from school with a science, maths, English, Chinese, phonics and French video lesson and there were materials to collect once a week from school.

Both children do live one-on-one online reading meetings with their teachers, live lessons three times a week, online spelling tests and class meetings on the Zoom app.

Mrs Dyer said: “I've been finding it very stressful to juggle teaching and helping both kids complete their work, but the school is very helpful in providing extra help to them both. I don't even know how we would survive if I was working right now.”

She said that former Warwick Academy student Adrianna and Julius, 4, who went to Lagoon Park Preschool, had adapted well to their new regime.

Mrs Dyer said: “They are oblivious to some things.”

But neither had the chance to settle into school or make friends before Hong Kong shut down.

Mrs Dyer said: “Adrianna's birthday is on April 3. She said ‘I'm not even going to have a party' because I don't have anyone to invite.

“But I said ‘that's because you only went to school for three weeks here'.”

Mr Dyer was able to return to work at his office after a short stint working at home.

Mrs Dyer said: “His office building set up mandatory temperature checks in order to get in the elevator and extra cleaning and disinfecting was done and is still being done.

“You can often see cleaners disinfecting elevators, escalators and the subway. There are wet disinfecting mats to walk over as you enter most buildings, as well as free hand-sanitising stations throughout the city.”

She added that her mother in Bermuda couriered a box of face masks to her in February after Hong Kong's shelves had been stripped bare.

But she said there were now good supplies of everything and that she wondered if she should return the favour.

Mrs Dyer believed the use of masks by the majority of people in Hong Kong had helped to stop the spread of the virus and that the authorities had done a good job on public safety.

She said: “We try to avoid large crowds but we do try to get outdoors for fresh air as much as possible, as my kids need to run around and play and it affects overall morale and happiness of the house when we have been outside.

“But the parks and playgrounds are fairly empty for the most part, so I don't feel unsafe being out.”

Mrs Dyer added: “The hardest part of this new reality is being away from our support systems.

“The positives of this situation is how well Hong Kong has handled the outbreak and how safe they have made citizens feel here.”

She added: “Thank God none of us has fallen sick since being in Hong Kong and none of us have needed the doctor or the hospital, but I have heard from others that the hospitals here are top class and very clean, professional and efficient.”

Mrs Dyer said her home country should “come together and fight against the spread of the virus” with strict social distancing and tight border controls.

Be prepared: Nijah Dyer with Adrianna and Julius
Be prepared: Julius Dyer

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Published March 19, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 19, 2020 at 8:58 am)

Bermudian family quarantined in Hong Kong

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