COLUMBUS, Ohio — Roughly 1.4 million people in Hong Kong were living below the poverty line before the COVID-19 pandemic began, which is the country’s highest poverty rate in nearly a decade. After the pandemic settled in the country, poverty rates have only gone up. The COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong has induced widespread job loss. Hong Kong, feeling the extensive effects of COVID-19, has found its impoverished people further stuck in poverty with new Hongkongers enduring poverty now too.
COVID-19 Pandemic in Hong Kong: Job Losses
The unemployment rate in Hong Kong currently sits at 6.4%, which is the highest unemployment rate the country has seen in 15 years. Induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 257,000 Hongkongers are currently out of work. Hong Kong, classified as a high-income level country, has also seen the number of unemployed people living in poor households rocket to nearly 110,000 individuals since the start of the pandemic. The government of Hong Kong has attempted to help employers with staff retention by providing wage subsidies. Creating an unstable and harsh economic environment, the COVID-19 pandemic has made finding and keeping a job a difficult task in the country, and as a result, poverty in Hong Kong is increasing.
Strict COVID-19 Restrictions
Hong Kong has been one of the strictest countries regarding the COVID-19 response. For instance, marking the beginning of the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Hong Kong on December 2, 2020, the government is now only allowing crowds of two people to gather in public. If people are caught gathering in groups of more than two in particular public areas, they are faced with a potential fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for six months. As a result of strict restrictions as such, Hongkongers are simply not going out and spending money and businesses throughout the country are feeling the effects of this. The food industry in Hong Kong, a longstanding cornerstone of the economy, has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Poverty in Hong Kong is yet again negatively affected by the declining economy itself.
Christian Action, an NGO that provides support and empowering programs for vulnerable groups of people, recently embarked on a journey in Hong Kong to spray hundreds of apartment units with a disinfectant to create healthier living conditions in the country. Through teaming up with Aloes Tree, a Hong Kong firm founded amid the pandemic, Christian Action has implemented photocatalyst technology which is light that rids surfaces of germs and viruses. Amid a declining economy and a population living in fear of COVID-19, Christian Action is creating a healthier and safer living environment for Hongkongers.
Addressing COVID-19 and Poverty
Hong Kong saw 20% of its population living below the poverty line before the COVID-19 pandemic, and since, this poverty rate has gone up as the virus continues to wreak havoc on the economy of Hong Kong. Hong Kong has seen its poverty increase due to declining conditions of living. NGOs like Christian Action have been of positive service to Hongkongers during COVID-19. Moving forward, more NGOs must get involved and directly aid unemployment and poverty at their roots as this would prove very beneficial to struggling households and the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Hong Kong.
– Dylan James
Photo: Flickr/Gauthier DELECROIX