Masks, gloves, disinfectants ... after making sure he has enough anti-epidemic supplies in the trunk, Stephen Sha skillfully put on a blue protective suit, got into the driver's cab and took out a rapid self-test kit for COVID-19.
"One bar, negative," Sha breathed a sigh of relief and put on his mask, face shield and gloves, waiting for orders from the dispatch center to pick up COVID-19 patients.
As the daily number of new COVID-19 cases continued to surge in Hong Kong, residents went outdoors less to avoid being infected. Meanwhile, many professional drivers, including Sha, came out to serve a special group of passengers.
In mid-February, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government tightened anti-epidemic measures, including the suspension of dine-in service in restaurants after 6:00 p.m.
Due to the severe epidemic situation, the once crowded streets in the global financial hub have become fairly deserted. "This is not the Hong Kong that I know," 72-year-old Sha said gloomily.
When Sha learned that the HKSAR government was setting up an "anti-epidemic taxi" fleet to pick up COVID-19 patients to clinics, he decided to join.
On Feb. 22, two days before Sha joined the taxi fleet, the family of his younger brother was diagnosed with COVID-19. They did not go to the hospital but stayed at home over worries that they would spread the disease by taking public transport.
Sha's determination to take part in the taxi fleet then was firmer and he hoped to help the COVID-19 patients as much as he could.
Sung Yat-lung, another driver from the "anti-epidemic taxi" fleet, admitted that he is afraid of being infected but he has found comfort and courage in helping the patients to reach the clinics and get treatments.
Hong Kong's healthcare system is overwhelmed by the fifth wave of the epidemic, with frontline medical staff working under ultra-high pressure.
North Lantau Hospital Hong Kong Infection Control Center is one of the designated hospitals in Hong Kong to treat COVID-19 patients. Ms Ma works as an assistant anesthesiologist there and it usually takes her nearly two hours to go to work every day.
As part of the efforts to curb the spread of the virus, some bus lines in Hong Kong have been adjusted and the bus service frequency has also been reduced, making Ma's daily commute much more difficult. Recently, she was introduced to a special taxi service provided by a local taxi group.
Last month, the group launched a campaign offering free rides for frontline medical staff and free transport of anti-epidemic supplies.
"I'm happy if I can help to reduce the commute time of medical staff," said Dickson Chen, one of the more than 100 taxi drivers who volunteered in the campaign.
Sometimes when Sha parks his taxi on the roadside and people who recognize it as an "anti-epidemic taxi" would come over to thank him.
"So heartwarming, so happy, it's worthwhile," Sha said with a big smile.