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Stories of children separated from parents highlight the price of Hong Kong's coronavirus success

   March 17, 2021 5:26 AM
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by Joshua Berlinger, CNN

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Hong Kong (CNN) When Ariel saw her two young sons isolated in a Hong Kong hospital ward with Covid-19, she broke down. The brothers -- age 5 and 1 and both asymptomatic -- were wearing vests that were tied to their beds to restrain them. They were covered in dirt and both wearing diapers, even the five-year-old.

Ariel stepped inside the room and looked at her eldest.

"We both started crying," she said. Ariel's family found themselves caught in the crosshairs of Hong Kong's inflexible but efficient pandemic prevention measures in late February. Though it's been more than 14 months since the territory identified its first coronavirus case, Hong Kong has shown few signs of easing numerous restrictions.

Nearly all residents arriving in the city must spend 21 days in hotel quarantine at their own expense. Restaurants shut at 10 p.m. and beaches are closed. Public gatherings are limited to four people.

The territory's track and trace program remains among the world's strictest. Anyone testing positive for the virus is required to go to the hospital, while their close contacts must enter government-run quarantine facilities for up to 14 days. The government frequently conducts "ambush-style" lockdowns, forcing entire apartment buildings or blocks to undergo Covid-19 testing.

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