After weeks of separation from his pregnant wife while working as a medic on the frontline of Hong Kong’s fight against the coronavirus, Dr. Alfred Wong can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
His daughter was born on Apr. 1 amid the world’s biggest emergency, and is healthy.
“I am a happy man, but I am a worried father,” Wong told NBC News.
As Hong Kong tackled its first wave of the epidemic in February, Wong, 38, was a member of the so-called “dirty team," a group of medical workers dedicated to treating coronavirus patients, at the city's Tuen Mun Hospital.
At that time, Wong told NBC News that he and his wife had to stay 10 feet apart at all times because of fears for her health and their unborn child. The pair would meet briefly in a park near the hospital for dinner ever day.
Physical contact was off limits, forcing Wong to stay at a hotel near the hospital to self-isolate rather than go home after work.
Now, with the city’s containment efforts ramped up, Wong has left the "dirty team" and reunited with his wife and their new addition, something he said made him feel "slightly better."
“We are quite overwhelmed with all the parenting stuff, but I guess that’s normal," he said.
Four people have died from coronavirus in Hong Kong as of Saturday, with the number of infections topping 1,000, but the semi-autonomous city has managed to ride out the first wave of the epidemic relatively unscathed — something Wong credits its residents for.
"They were very vigilant about hand hygiene, universal masking and social distancing right from the beginning," he said.
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But the number of new cases in Hong Kong has surged in recent weeks, raising fears of a second wave of infections.
During the first wave, Wong said the city had to deal with an influx of patients from mainland China, where the virus originated, but with the epidemic now global, he is concerned about imported cases.
“I don't think that we are over this yet," Wong added. "There's still a chance that we could become Italy or Spain in a very short period of time.”
To tackle the spike in new cases, the Hong Kong government has banned all tourist arrivals and urged residents to continue maintaining social distancing measures.
Wong said the city could still be at risk of a massive community outbreak, which leaves him worried as a new father, finishing his paternal leave and returning to his clinical duties soon.
“Even though I'm not working in a dirty team now, I am still at risk of contracting the virus during my routine daily duty and therefore bringing the virus home,” he added.