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Coronavirus: First the streets were packed and now they are empty


The Correspondent asked freelance photographer and FCC member May James to look at how coronavirus is changing Hong Kong. After months working on the front line of the city’s protests, she found a very different picture

‘This small, lively city is packed with 6,700 people per square kilometre – that’s an average of 160 square feet, or roughly a New York City parking space, per person. Which means social distancing is not an easy task. During last year’s protests I was safe to be with my loved ones after a good shower, and cuddling my kids was my soul food to combat the tension. Now, with this epidemic, I can’t take any chances of my asthmatic child getting infected. So I’ve sent them away. It’s the only safe way I can continue to work.’  – May James

 

August 18, 2019: The ‘Two Million’ march, Victoria Park, Causeway Bay
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August 18, 2019: The ‘Two Million’ march, Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. Photo: © May James | May James Photography
March 26, 2020: A few lone walkers
March 26, 2020: A few lone walkers. Photo: © May James | May James Photography
December 1, 2019: March from Clock Tower, Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom
December 1, 2019: March from Clock Tower, Tsim Sha Tsui to Hung Hom
March 26, 2020: Museums and galleries are shut and few venture out
March 26, 2020: Museums and galleries are shut and few venture out
September 13, 2019: Autumn Festival climb and protest, Lion Rock
September 13, 2019: Autumn Festival climb and protest, Lion Rock
March 22, 2020: Hikers keep their distance
March 22, 2020: Hikers keep their distance
July 20, 2019: Pro-government demonstration at LegCo
July 20, 2019: Pro-government demonstration at LegCo
March 28, 2020: Saturday afternoon and no one to be seen
March 28, 2020: Saturday afternoon and no one to be seen
December 1, 2019: Tsim Sha Tsui rally passes a Hong Kong icon
December 1, 2019: Tsim Sha Tsui rally passes a Hong Kong icon
March 26, 2020: Quiet afternoon along Salisbury Road
March 26, 2020: Quiet afternoon along Salisbury Road
July 27, 2019: An estimated 288,000 people march through Yuen Long
July 27, 2019: An estimated 288,000 people march through Yuen Long
March 27, 2020: Quiet, but not empty, street scene
March 27, 2020: Quiet, but not empty, street scene

‘Coronavirus saved my life’

May James had an extraordinary encounter with ‘Ms. C’ while researching this project.

Photo: May James

Ms. C had suffered with depression since November last year. From being a happy, chatty lady who loved to cook and eat, she lost her focus and found food repellent. She thought the only way out would be to jump off her building. Then, as the coronavirus crisis grew, the government announced schools must shut and civil servants work from home. Ms. C’s two children and her husband all had to stay home and offered her “limitless encouragement and support”. She was reconnecting with her family and friends when the shortage of protective masks hit Hong Kong. So Ms. C. started making them by hand. “It took me two hours on each one from start to finish, but I felt I was saving someone’s life,” she says. “My life is now filled with love and purpose.”

March 26, 2020: Quiet afternoon along Salisbury Road

Post Date: April 20, 2020


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