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Lack of transparency in quarantine policies in China

For university students, the Winter break is supposed to be relaxing. But for Knightley Liu and me, returning to the mainland from Hong Kong began with a 14-day quarantine in a hotel room ridden with cockroaches and more. With the coronavirus pandemic unabated, quarantine policies are now common worldwide. Mainland China's quarantine policies vary from place to place, depending on local governments. There is a limited number of flights between Hong Kong and major mainland cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. So Shenzhen and Zhuhai, the only two mainland cities that have road connections with Hong Kong, are popular among people who choose to be quarantined elsewhere before they go to their final destinations. To cope with the large group of inbound travellers, Shenzhen and Zhuhai have adopted corresponding measures. Shenzhen now requires travellers to reserve a place, without a choice of hotel before they enter the city, and sets the daily limit to only 2,000 returnees. There are currently only six shuttle buses from the Hong Kong border to Zhuhai daily, each carrying a maximum of 40 people. The Hotel: No Choice After crossing the border into the mainland, Kightley and I were taken to a bus bound for the quarantine hotel, while I received no response when I asked medical officials where I am going. I could only check my location on a map. In Hong Kong, the Department of Health provides a list of hotels that inbound tourists can choose from, with the room rates and various hotel policies such as whether the hotel offers takeaway services. But in the mainland, travellers can choose how much they wish to pay and the kind of facilities which they want to stay in, but not the actual hotel. Knightley, a mainland year three student from Hong Kong,who returned to the …


Are colorful masks safe for health and environment?

Searching in the bags with colorful masks, Amy Ng picked out a blue purple one that matched the color of her blue denim jacket. Amy Ng, a 40-year-old lady, is heading to Tsim Sha Tsui to purchase some colorful masks for her family. “Since you have to wear a mask every day,” said Ms Ng, “why not wear it beautifully and happily?”  Masks have become a daily necessity in Hong Kong where the fourth wave of the epidemic is raging. Recently, colorful printed masks have become popular. But there are doubts whether they are compromising safety for fashion. The Centre for Health Protection website recommends using masks that have three layers: the water-repellent outer layer, the filter layer and the hydrophilic inner layer. The outermost layer is usually made of polypropylene, a non-woven fabric. It is the most crucial layer because it can prevent liquid from splashing, to stop the flying droplets from contacting the middle layer as well as the mouth and nose. “Traditionally the masks are blue, green and white. It is safe because the dye is already mixed with the materials,” said Joanne Yip, an associate professor at the Institute of Textiles and Clothing Department of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. To make the traditional blue and green masks, producers will put the dye into the polypropylene, melting them together and screening the fabrics out, according to Dr Yip.  With Christmas approaching, some stores now offer an array of masks with everything from Christmas trees, to reindeer and snowman.  MF Living is a store in Tsim Sha Tsui that offers more than 240 kinds of colorful masks. “Since our store opened in October, there has been a long queue of customers almost every day,” said Angela Lau, a saleswoman at MF Living. Ten masks cost HK$38 while DIY …