But while Hong Kongers fret, many it seems are also keen to watch Hollywood’s take on what a global pandemic might look like.
“The sudden interest in everything epidemic and virus-related allows people an avenue which can help to process what’s going on,” Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist who explores mass hysteria, told AFP.
“It’s well-known in psychology that the process of talking about traumatic events can help people ‘get it off their chest’ and relieve stress.”
It is not just movies receiving a bump.
For much of the last eight years “Plague Inc” has been one of the most popular mobile phone games, allowing players to control a deadly pathogen that spreads through humanity.
Ndemic Creations, the makers of the game, says downloads spike during global news coverage of a disease, including both the coronavirus and Ebola outbreaks.
“Whenever there is an outbreak of disease we see an increase in players, as people seek to find out more about how diseases spread and to understand the complexities of viral outbreaks,” the company said in a statement.
“However, please remember that ‘Plague Inc’ is a game, not a scientific model, and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people,” it added.
Last year Extra Credits, an educational YouTube channel, did a seven-part animation series for the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic that killed millions worldwide.
Robert Rath, the channel’s Hong Kong-based writer, said views have soared since the coronavirus outbreak, especially in Southeast Asia.
“Since January 1, the first episode gained over 100,000 views and the series as a whole gained over 330,000 views, which is dramatic for a YouTube video two years old,” he told AFP.