Hongkongers have taken to the city’s hiking trails in what netizens have described as a “disease prevention activity” during the coronavirus outbreak.

Trails across the city saw huge queues during the weekend sunshine with traffic coming to a standstill around popular destinations such as Sai Kung.

First detected in Hubei, China, more than 80,000 people globally have been infected with Covid-19, whilst almost 2,700 have died from the SARS-like disease. Hong Kong has seen 81 cases, with many companies allowing staff to work from home.

強烈建議想揸車上來大山的遊客想清楚先, 車已泊到出荃錦公路路邊川龍和大山口係重災區

Posted by James Kwok on Saturday, 22 February 2020

Photos and videos of trails crowded with visitors circulated quickly on social media. Long queues were spotted on famous peaks such as Lion Rock, Devil’s Peak and Tai Mo Shan, whilst nearby roads were bumper-to-bumper.

The spectacle came as the city’s entertainment districts remain largely abandoned with the government advising citizens to avoid crowded areas.

Netizens were quick to remark on the irony and share memes. One post by local Photoshop artist Tommy Fung poked fun at how crowded Lion Rock had become.

Another meme by local magazine 100 Most compared Hongkongers’ expectations of an escape to the countryside with the frustrating reality.

The trend also sparked environmental concerns, however, after photos emerged of large amounts of garbage left on the trails.

According to a Facebook post by NGO Green Earth, used face masks, empty plastic bottles and a cigarette box were among the trash their volunteer team discovered on popular routes.

Meanwhile, photos from Vincent Chan showed a group of hikers volunteering to clean up the trails in the Lion Rock Country Park, picking up plastic bags, fruit peel, tissue papers and plastic utensils.

Plastic bags, fruit peel and tissue papers were left on Lion Rock’s trails. Photo: Vincent Chan.

Chan said in a caption that it was not the first time he found a lot of rubbish on Hong Kong’s peaks. He noticed many people began to comment on the issue on Sunday, so he joined friends for a litter-pick. Chan said everyone has the responsibility to take away their own rubbish, and people should not take other’s help for granted.

Some hikers volunteered to clean up the mountain trails during their hike. Photo: Vincent Chan.

“Even children know that it is wrong to litter, it is a really uncivilised behaviour. Keeping the environment clean is everyone’s responsibility, not just on the mountains,” Chan wrote.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.