Nancy Chow
Class of 1990


Social Worker


As a social worker, I have observed that COVID-19 has not only brought about a health and economic crisis for Hong Kong and the world, but also a social crisis which struck at the core of our society.

Family relationships have been severely tested by policies designed to contain the pandemic, with the collateral effect of shutting down community support services. The suspension of schools, day-care services for the needy, the elderlies and the disabled created additional burdens and presented enormous challenges, tremendous stress and frustration to family members and caregivers alike. Although the requirements of social distancing and work-from-home arrangements has allowed family members to stay at home longer, it has also increased the chance of familial conflicts. You may have read from the news about couples arguing over whether they should go out or stay at home, whether they should be wearing masks, or how they should use diluted household bleach etc. In addition, parents are involved in more fights with their children over homework and the use of electronic devices. During the pandemic, social workers like myself have also been challenged to make use of video communication to maintain contacts with clients, in order to observe the need for social distancing. As there are no physical visits, there is a need to heighten our awareness of the stress and needs of our clients in these complicated times.

COVID-19 has affected people from all walks of life, in particular the less privileged and vulnerable groups. At the outbreak of the pandemic, you may recall on social media, a story about an elderly man crying in front of a reporter, and expressing his desperation for a mask. This shows that for people with the least resources, they usually have limited access to information as well as the weakest coping abilities, making them more vulnerable to the dangers of the coronavirus. The situation is worsened by the requirement of social distancing, which leaves the elderlies, disabled, underprivileged and ethnic minorities most impacted by isolation.

To ease the plight of those hardest hit by the pandemic, the government has duly responded by granting different kinds of subsidies to ease imminent financial needs. I believe that society will benefit from more social measures or policies directed at restoring and strengthening the coping ability of these vulnerable groups. In the long run, this will also help to reduce the inequality gap and social injustices caused by the pandemic.

COVID-19 pandemic has brought misery to many, but it has also alerted us to look for ways to review inter-personal relationships, including how to deal with family situations and examine the effectiveness of Hong Kong's social safety net system. We should focus more on taking preventative actions so that we are better equipped to deal with another crisis should this happen in the future.