Hong Kong’s unelected pro-Beijing leaders eventually closed most land border crossings and began quarantining anyone coming from the mainland from Saturday.
But even before the current health crisis, anti-government sentiment was at an all-time high after seven months of seething and often violent pro-democracy protests.
The perceived slow response — and failure to stockpile enough masks despite the city’s previous experience with SARS — has only added to public anger.
And the outbreak is also changing daily life in more mundane ways.
With schools closed, children are cooped up in a city of notoriously small apartments. Teachers are trying to roll out online classes, playgrounds are empty.
University students already had months of classes disrupted by the protests. Final-year students now fret about whether they’ll even graduate.
Many Hong Kongers are avoiding the office and working from home.
While the streets are far from deserted, they are eerily quiet in a city where a casual walk to the shops can often feel like a rugby match.
For those that venture out, the pavements are uncharacteristically walkable, the subway commute refreshingly quiet and the traffic jams unusually absent.