Photographer Documents His Time in Hong Kong’s ‘COVID Jail’

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Photographers have documented their experience of being trapped in Hong Kong’s “COVID Prison” for more than two weeks after a positive COVID-19 test in Hong Kong, thanks to the world’s toughest quarantine protocol.

Matt Jacob is a Hong Kong-based pilot who is also responsible for environmental portraits and travel photography when not in flight.

“As a pilot, 2021 was a forgotten year for me,” Jacob tells Peta Pixel. “After spending a total of more than eight months in the calendar year away from friends, family and family life, at the end of that, I was resting and catching the airline to Hong Kong for a while. We are flying. If not, the hotel would be isolated.

Jacob returned to Hong Kong on New Year’s Eve and immediately headed for hotel quarantine. Airline crews have reduced quarantine time by just one week compared to the long 21-day quarantine of passengers.

Nightmares start with a positive test

Jacob is familiar with strict quarantine policies, but was not ready for immediate rush trials when his COVID test was unexpectedly positive.

“During the hotel quarantine I’m very accustomed to, I’m not allowed to go out of the room for the rest of my stay, but the standard protocol is for the government to come to the room door almost every day to do a PCR test. “Jacob says. “And for me, there was a terrifying phone call on the third day.

“In other countries, you may be required to quarantine at home or in a hotel for a period of time, but before you know that, take an ambulance to the center of quarantine in Hong Kong for a COVID-positive” patient. ” I was killed. And it was on this day that the whole nightmare began. I call it “zero days”. “

When he began to stay in “COVID Prison” without a clear release date, Jacob began taking pictures to record the patient’s experience.

Patient in bed at COVID Hospital Isolation in Hong Kong

Patient looking out the window of COVID Hospital isolation in Hong Kong

“Because of the limited opportunities for photography, I wanted to provide a small insight into the environment trapped inside the ward with five strangers for more than two weeks without knowing when to go out. “The photographer says.

Patient sitting in a room in isolation at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong

Patient standing in the corridor of COVID Hospital isolation in Hong Kong

One of the “most radical” COVID protocols

The experience of being isolated as a positive COVID patient in Hong Kong is different from that experienced by people in most other countries.

“From the first minute, I thought this would be a challenge,” says Jacob. “Hong Kong has one of the most rigorous and rigorous systems in the world when it comes to dealing with positive COVID cases.

Patient's foot in Hong Kong COVID hospital isolation

One of the main hurdles that Hong Kong COVID patients have to overcome is to test negative according to Hong Kong policy.

“To be officially released from government-controlled quarantine quarantine, we need to do two consecutive negative tests for at least 24 hours between each test,” says the photographer. “But Hong Kong’s” negative “definition and thresholds are the toughest in the world when compared to other countries and central medical institutions such as WHO.

“If a PCR is negative in one country, it can easily be positive in Hong Kong. This is one of the reasons why many people are caught after landing here, until they are released from the hospital. That’s one of the reasons why it takes so long. “

Patients undergoing COVID testing at COVID Hospital Isolation in Hong Kong

This very high criterion for being COVID negative is the cause of a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in patients who are literally trapped in COVID “prisons”.

Nurse outside the door of COVID hospital isolation in Hong Kong

“Not only did I know I was here for at least a few weeks, but some people went for a month or had a negative test followed by a positive test. It’s an experience and mental test in itself. I knew it would be, “says Jacob.

Food delivered to patients in Hong Kong COVID hospital quarantine

Drinks delivered to patients in Hong Kong COVID hospital quarantine

COVID Hospital in Hong Kong Cup on the isolated floor

Slippers and ground dust in Hong Kong COVID hospital isolation

Patient is using his laptop in Hong Kong COVID hospital quarantine

Patient is using his laptop in Hong Kong COVID hospital quarantine

Man uses his laptop in Hong Kong COVID hospital quarantine

Photographer Matt Jacob uses his laptop in Hong Kong's COVID hospital quarantine

Outside the window of COVID Hospital isolation in Hong Kong

When the week feels like a year

“It was only a few weeks, but it looked like a few years,” says Jacob. “It can seem ridiculous to have such a serious experience, but I will never forget the emotions it caused to me, other wardmates and other isolated people, and control. And the lack of information was immeasurable. “

Group of patients in isolation at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Another day in paradise …
Patients in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Ken, the first withdrawal.
Patients in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Jerry, in the second batch of castrates.
Patients in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Anthony, in the second batch of withdrawals.
Patients in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Emil, the fifth withdrawal.
Patients in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Kenneth, finally leave.
A place where privacy and publicity meet.
Patients in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
People often stuck to themselves, but didn’t want to be rude.
COVID Hospital in Hong Kong Curtains on hospital beds in isolation
Minion space …
Feet of photographer Matt Jacob in quarantine at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
Food delivery at random times every day.
Patient sleeping in quarantine at COVID hospital in Hong Kong
Sleep was often the best and only option.

Patient sleeping in quarantine at COVID hospital in Hong Kong

COVID Hospital Isolation Bed in Hong Kong
My house is 2 weeks.
Group of patients in isolation at COVID Hospital in Hong Kong
My temporary family (from left to right): Ken, Anthony, me, Emil, Kenis, Jerry.

Quarantine to your home for free

When Jacob was released from quarantine, he had to spend another two weeks in quarantine at home.

“At the end of 16 days of strict prison-type quarantine, I was walking down the exit and looking forward to 14 days of home quarantine (mandated and policed ​​after the government quarantine).” He says. “In retrospect, every day at the hospital helped me with my own challenges, incredibility, frustration, ups and downs, and everything in between.”

One of the things Jacob helped to deal with during his stay was to document itself, both through images and writing down thoughts.

“I recorded my diary, some touching pictures, and my experience with poetic stories, all for more cathartic reasons, but giving me something to do. Gave me! “

Jacob says he hopes his mini-project will illuminate a “nightmare”, hoping that most people don’t need to experience it personally.

“We hope that such content can provide a small insight into the situation and experience of such trials, as well as the state of mind that most people trapped in it have during quarantine. “Long later,” says Jacob.

Jacob also presented his thoughts and feelings during his stay in the form of poetry. Details of the photographer’s work can be found on his website, Facebook and Instagram.


Image credit: Photo by Matt Jacob.

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