Minimizing risk of infection means sticking to health guidelines

Wang Yong
With Shanghai students taking the college entrance exams early next month, the city has come up with a number of measures to minimize the risk of novel coronavirus infection.
Wang Yong

With Shanghai students taking college entrance exams early next month, the city has come up with a number of  measures to minimize the risk of novel coronavirus infection.

For one thing, students who take part in the exams slated for July 7-9 must not leave Shanghai from June 23, local education and examination authorities said in a notice yesterday. For another, students must arrive at the designated venues for exams 45 minutes ahead of time to undergo checks and instructions.

These are but two of a set of meticulous measures the city has mapped out to make the July exams safe and sound. They reflect the city’s character of trying to do well in doing good – a character known for its acute attention to details.

One cannot be too cautious in ensuring the safety of an indoor exam venue. It is better that all the participants are healthy. A two-week safe period is reasonable to avoid exposure to potential health risks. It’s a fortnight between June 23 and July 7.

That students sitting the exams shall not leave the city for a while may sound like a “one-size-fits-all” tactic at first. On second thoughts, it’s better than second-best. It’s actually a best choice, given an opportunity cost analysis. A student may have “sacrificed” two weeks of “free travel” outside the city, but it’s a “sacrifice” worth being made for the ultimate benefit of society as well as for oneself.

Follow the science of health, heed your conscience for the common good, and you will mostly do right, even though it means extra effort on your part.

In the same vein, local education and examination authorities will allow students to take off their masks after they enter  test venues and sit down at designated seats. Students should also take off their masks when going through identity checks. Otherwise, wearing a mask is a must.

Not everyone is cautious enough, though. In contrast to this due diligence on the part of authorities, schools and students is the failure of some local restaurants to provide a pair of serving chopsticks for each course served. 

I’ve been to many restaurants lately, treating others or being treated, and few have ever taken the initiative to prepare such chopsticks as suggested by health experts. These “public” utensils are meant to prevent restaurant-goers from using their own chopsticks to dip into dishes, a habit lending itself to risks of cross-contamination.

In all the restaurants I have patronized over the past month – about six or seven  – “public” chopsticks were served only after I asked for them. Still, there were not enough for each course.

Habits die hard.

If there’s something we can learn from both the schools and restaurants, it’s that we all can do well, if and only if, we really mean it.

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