• Hong Kong residents are trying to regain normalcy in daily lives
• Mental and physical health in decline
• Majority of respondents concerned about spread of another unknown disease in Hong Kong
For Immediate Release
Sep 29, 2022
TSX/NYSE/PSE: MFC SEHK: 945
Hong Kong – Manulife Hong Kong today announced the results of its health survey on perceptions and experience of COVID-19 since the fifth wave. The survey has revealed how Hong Kong residents are now changing their attitudes on how to live with the virus, with people trying to regain normalcy in their daily lives. The findings also highlight that a third of respondents who contracted COVID-19 have suffered a deterioration in mental or physical health.
Commissioned by Manulife Hong Kong and conducted by YouGov in late August 2022, the survey of 1,020 people aged 18 or above revealed some interesting findings.
“It is clear from our research that people now want to enjoy the levels of normalcy experienced before the pandemic, despite COVID-19 still being a health concern for many people in Hong Kong. The ongoing virus has affected the daily lives and wellbeing of people of all ages, regardless of whether or not they have contracted the virus. However, the survey shows a positive attitude shift among Hongkongers,” said Danny Lee, Chief Product Officer, Manulife Hong Kong and Macau.
Hongkongers trying to live with the virus
The research revealed that respondents’ attitudes about how they live with COVID-19 are changing, with 30% of residents planning to travel within the next 12 months and 45% stating that “fear of infection is no longer a reason for me to not meet with friends or relatives and they have resumed a normal social routine.” The survey, conducted before the lifting of compulsory quarantine requirement on arrival at Hong Kong on September 26, 2022, showed that quarantine restrictions aside, a total of 49% of respondents are “comfortable to travel to other countries adopting living with COVID strategies”.
COVID-19 affecting mental and physical health, especially among younger people
Even though the pandemic hit Hong Kong in early 2020, the survey indicates that COVID-19 is still impacting people’s mental and physical health. Manulife’s research revealed that mental health has worsened for 33% of the population who have contracted COVID-19 and for 36% who have never contracted the virus. The findings also show that the virus is having a damaging effect on younger people, with 48% of people aged 35 or younger who have never had the virus admitting they have experienced a decline in mental health. Respondents are also struggling with physical wellbeing, more so for those who have had the virus, with 33% admitting a downturn in their physical health versus 26% who have never had the virus.
Respondents worried about spreading the virus to elderly and children
The survey also showed that most respondents are still worried about COVID-19, with 61% expressing concern about spreading the virus to the elderly and children, and 62% concerned about COVID-19’s long-term health effects. Around three quarters (74%) of respondents continue to adhere to strict personal hygiene protocols due to unease about catching the disease. Many have increased the frequency of preventive measures such as washing or sanitizing hands regularly (59%), disinfecting homes (46%), avoiding people with respiratory symptoms (46%), and taking more rapid antigen and PCR tests (47%). In addition, 38% of the respondents avoid crowded areas or events.
Familiarity about long COVID remains low
When discussing long-term health effects, 82% are worried about long COVID, but only 27% are familiar with it. Compare that, however, to the published in early 2022, which also highlighted a remarkable lack of awareness about long COVID with just 15% of respondents admitting they had heard about it, familiarity of the condition is slowly increasing.
About two-thirds of those who had contracted COVID-19 claimed to experience long COVID symptoms (more women than men, 61% vs. 39%), with close to half saying (45%) they still have symptoms. The most common long COVID effects include respiratory, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms.
Heightened concerns about future diseases
It’s not just COVID-19 that is concerning people in Hong Kong. When asked about the severity of other diseases, SARS tops the list with 76% of respondents stating it is the most severe, followed by Ebola (71%), monkeypox (63%), malaria (60%), and then COVID-19 (58%).
In addition, 84% of respondents are worried about the spread of another unknown disease in Hong Kong.
Pandemic fuels demand for insurance
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, COVID-19 has fuelled demand for insurance as people look to stay in control of their health and wellbeing. The health survey indicates that since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Hong Kong in early 2020 about a third of the respondents have researched or bought insurance coverage for themselves or their families.
Danny Lee added: “It is evident that Hongkongers, from maintaining strict hygiene protocols to concerns about the spread of a new disease, are now highly aware of matters relating to their health. As people look to travel and return to normalcy, it is important for them to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing and be prepared for any eventuality.”
About Manulife Hong Kong
Manulife Hong Kong has been a trusted name for 125 years. Since our operations started in Hong Kong in 1897, we have grown to become one of the top-tier providers of fi¬nancial services, offering a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to over 2.4 million customers in Hong Kong and Macau. We are committed to helping make decisions easier and lives better for our customers.
Manulife Hong Kong, through Manulife International Holdings Limited, owns Manulife (International) Limited, Manulife Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited and Manulife Provident Funds Trust Company Limited.
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider, helping people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our Global Wealth and Asset Management segment, we serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2021, we had more than 38,000 employees, over 119,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 33 million customers. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.