From February 4 to yesterday, February 23, 2022, 147 cross-border truck drivers have tested positive Covid-19. Cross-border truck drivers are key links both to maintaining Hong Kong’s fresh food supply and to exporting products from the PRD to the rest of the world via the port of Hong Kong. This means that the pandemic has not only made visible just how fragile the membrane between Mainland health (on the one side of the border) and Hong Kong nutrition (on the other side) is, but also how modern systems rely on the human body to function.
The cross-border delivery chain is managed by geographic section, rather than by truck. When a truck hauling a cross-border delivery arrives at a designated transfer site, a cross-border driver takes the wheel and the other driver is deployed to another pick-up. As most deliveries are from the mainland to Hong Kong, many of the drivers are based in Shenzhen. Consequently, Shenzhen has become responsible for maintaining a Covid Zero delivery chain, implementing the “three points one line 三点一线” protocol, which restricts the movement of drivers to three points (designated cross-border checkpoint, transfer station, quarantine hotel and their route). And yes, this is as restrictive as it sounds. And also yes, this protocol has been in place since the pandemic began in early 2020, which means many drivers haven’t been reunited with their families in two years, while others have quit in order to be with them. Not surprisingly, Mainland reports have emphasized the heroism of drivers who “will work as long as they can.”