Preventing SARS

Hygiene kits help 3,000 Hong Kong families

HONG KONG — Church members from the Kwun Tong and Tai Po areas gathered May 17 to assemble home hygiene kits, needed by families here to prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome.

The SARS hygiene kits were donated to 3,000 local families; half to elderly community members, particularly those whose income makes it difficult for them to purchase the needed items. The remaining kits were distributed to single-parent families with children, who need the items to meet the additional requirements, imposed by the government since the SARS outbreak, for school attendance.

Because masks for children at school are compulsory in Hong Kong and because many of families are living on fixed incomes, the additional costs were beyond their abilities, said local Church leaders.

Tai Po District board member Wu Kam Fai joined in coordinating the work of Church members and local government agencies with Kwun Tong District board members Danny Chin and Winnie Poon, whose area includes Amoy Gardens and other housing developments hit hardest by the infectious disease. All three district leaders are members of the Church. Hong Kong Kowloon East Stake President Steven Shiu and Hong Kong Tolo Harbour Stake President Simon Chan directed the project.

The SARS home hygiene kit, which includes waterless sanitizing gel, liquid soap, 50 face masks, a bottle of bleach and a single sheet of simple, but important health instructions, will address the needs of most families for several weeks.

Missionaries and Church members living in these areas joined with volunteers from the Social Welfare Department of the Hong Kong government in assembling and distributing the kits.

Elderly Hong Kong citizens wait to receive home hygiene kits including items to help prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome. The SARS hygiene kits were assembled and donated by Church members from the Kwun Tong and Tai Po areas May 17.
Elderly Hong Kong citizens wait to receive home hygiene kits including items to help prevent the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome. The SARS hygiene kits were assembled and donated by Church members from the Kwun Tong and Tai Po areas May 17. Credit: Photo courtesy Elder David Thornell

In Kai Yip more than 500 elderly people were invited to sit in the shade while the kits were delivered to them individually. In Hong Kong it is a sign of respect to hand a gift to an older person and not make him or her stand in line. Many of the recipients bowed and expressed thanks for the kindness shown them.

Because of the SARS outbreak, missionaries were delayed for the first time in 50 years from arriving in Hong Kong. Acting upon the advice of the World Health Organization, the Hong Kong government and Church officials, incoming missionaries remained two weeks longer in language training at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, and then went to work in Cantonese communities throughout the western United States while waiting for clearance to enter Hong Kong.

Eighteen missionaries scheduled to arrive in April and seven scheduled to arrive in May will remain in the United States until the World Health Organization lifts the travel advisory.

Earlier in April at the height of the spread of the infection, the Church donated 78 boxes of supplies to Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po to provide one week of protection for health care workers there. Supplies included 1,060 face masks, 299 surgical gowns and 2,700 surgical scrubs, as well as hoods, coveralls, shoe covers and patient gowns. The delivery of materials, which were flown in from the United States, came at a crucial time for health care workers.