When managing epidemics of new infectious disease it is important to learn the lessons of the past, but also to recognise the specific variables and uncertainties of the present. Communicating risk in evolving epidemics involves recognising those uncertainties and being prepared to change advice on the basis of new and evolving evidence. Education, reliable information and effective communication are key factors in the management of epidemics of infectious disease.
As COVID-19 continues to spread in Hong Kong, and globally, information around this new disease evolves at a rapid pace. We have compiled a historical record of this evolving process for our patients. We have loaded all our previous communications such that they can be assessed in context.
Navigate through the months to see key disease milestones.
Hong Kong and Macau government suspended BioNTech vaccination after packaging defects were found in one batch of the vaccine. Preliminary findings show that this defect should not cause any health risks and the suspension is undertaken as a precaution. 
COVID-19 cases in Europe continues to increase with many fearing that this is a third wave. Several European countries have reintroduced lockdowns and imposed stricter social distancing measures as a result :
The UK vaccination programme is a huge success. More than 95% of elderly aged 60 or over have received their first jabs. Half of the adults in UK have also received their first dose of vaccine.
The French Government announced a four-week lockdown in Paris and parts of northern France due to the transmission of the highly contagious COVID-19 variants coupled with a slow vaccination rollout. 
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 120 million.
Hong Kong was hit by a super spreader event at a fitness gym. The government reported 10 confirmed cases related to the gym on this day. Altogether, the gym cluster expanded to 109 cases.
Many residential buildings and workplaces in the Central and Western Districts are now covered by compulsory testing notices. Over 860 close contacts of cluster patients are quarantined and more than 2,200 people are required to undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing as a result.
Hong Kong is now rolling out the BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of their vaccination program.
The United Kingdom identified six cases of the variant that was first detected in Brazil, triggering an extensive targeted testing program.
A new COVID-19 cluster in Hong Kong originates in Mr. Ming’s Chinese Dining at K11 Musea Shopping Centre. This cluster is tied to a total of 44 confirmed cases. K11 Musea shuts down for two days after the cluster number grew. 
Hong Kong begins the rollout of their mass vaccination program.
Hong Kong government begins to ease its social distancing measures:
WHO reports that the number of reported global weekly COVID-19 cases has dropped nearly 50% due to public health measures. 
The weekly confirmed cases in the US have dropped from an average of 254,002 confirmed cases to 108,153 confirmed cases within the span of January to February. This represents a 57% reduction in confirmed cases. The following measures have been implemented over this time :
The UK government introduces mandatory hotel quarantine, starting from 15 February 2021. Anyone that travel to the UK from a country on the UK’s banned list will be required to quarantine for 10 days in a government approved facility.
Japan announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions:
The Hong Kong Government updated the compulsory testing policy for buildings. The building will be listed for compulsory testing if:
Since January 23 2021, the Hong Kong Government has closed 8 different districts in 11 days, tested nearly 10,000 people and found 14 confirmed patients.
Marked one year since WHO declared COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 100 million.
For the first time, Hong Kong implemented mandatory lockdown in the restricted area. More than half of the confirmed cases came from the Yau Tsim Mong District in the past two weeks. To curb the local epidemic, the government has blocked the Jordan area, and all residents must stay at home for mandatory testing.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 90 million.
OT&P publish a blog about the viral mutations being reported in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
OT&P 16th newsletter.
OT&P publish the first podcast update about the transmission of COVID-19, Closing Schools and the balance of public health measures. This episode features Professor Ben Cowling, who is the division head of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong.
OT&P also publish a blog about vaccines for COVID-19.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 60 million.
Total COVID-19 death toll surpasses 1 million.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 40 million.
South Korea and Japan relaxed their restriction on business travel with a bilateral agreement. Short-term business travellers are exempted from 14-days quarantine .
Total COVID-19 cases surpass 30 million.
OT&P 15th newsletter. This is also the first newsletter to have an audio version available.
OT&P publish findings of a recent study exploring our patient perceptions of the mass testing program: 'Survey of Patient Perceptions of the Hong Kong Mass Testing Program and Recognition of Potential Barriers to Testing'.
Total COVID-19 cases surpass 20 million.
OT&P 14th newsletter.
This also marks the start of Hong Kong's third "wave" with COVID-19.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 11 million.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 10 million.
OT&P 13th newsletter.
OT&P publish a blog asking ‘what we know about COVID-19 and how lifestyle and diet affect the severity of the disease?’
OT&P publish a blog ‘what are Antibodies are and why they are so important’?
OT&P 12th newsletter.
OT&P 11th newsletter.
OT&P announce a study with the University of Hong Kong. The study will provide evidence of the effectiveness of the community-wide interventions that Hong Kong has been implementing. The study required 1,500 volunteers to donate a blood sample. The response to the newsletter was extraordinary, such that we had more than 3,000 volunteers within 4 hours and the study was oversubscribed.
We published a COVID-19 Q&A.
OT&P 10th newsletter.
Total COVID-19 cases surpasses 1 million.
OT&P 9th newsletter.
The United Kingdom goes into lockdown.
OT&P 8th newsletter.
Hong Kong records 48 new infections, the biggest daily tally so far.
As more politicians made bleak predictions about COVID-19, we discussed the danger of predictions of mortality in evolving epidemics.
OT&P 7th newsletter.
We published a blog asking whether it is better to contain or delay and mitigate?
WHO declares the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
Hong Kong reaches the milestone of 100 confirmed cases.
OT&P 5th newsletter.
We asked the question ‘How do we get back to normal?’
To assist parents in dealing with school closure, OT&P children’s behavioural therapist wrote an article on how to maintain structure at home during this period.
South Korea reports over 20 more cases on this day, marking the beginning of the outbreak cluster in Daegu, South Korea.
OT&P 2nd newsletter.
Communicating risk in an epidemic: A personal perspective written by Dr David Owens as a reflection of his previous experience of the epidemics of TB, HIV and SARS.
First death recorded in Hong Kong from COVID-19. A 39-year old male who had travelled to Wuhan on the 21st of January with an underlying illness.
OT&P published a blog explaining why the WHO has declared the global health emergency.
The first two COVID-19 cases are confirmed in the UK.
OT&P produce their first newsletter.
The first blog: the distinction between the disease and the epidemic was published.
Hong Kong also recorded its first positive case, a 39-year-old man who arrived in Hong Kong from China.
We will continue to update this timeline regularly to include major milestones and information. If you’d like to receive updates directly to your inbox, please subscribe to our newsletter.