Hong Kong and China’s battle against omicron

Hong Kong and China’s battle against omicron
People stand in front of a temporarily closed pet shop after the government announced to euthanize around 2,000 hamsters in the city after finding evidence for the first time of possible animal-to-human transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hong Kong, China, January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The backstory

  • Hong Kong and mainland China have very strict COVID-19 regulations, especially amid the spread of omicron.
  • But even though this is the case, omicron cases have been found within both regions, making authorities pose harsher closures while they try and understand how omicron even made it past their borders in the first place.

The developments in Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong officials have announced the culling of 2,000 small animals, including hamsters and rabbits, suspected of being infected with COVID-19 and passing it to humans after being imported from the Netherlands.
  • All pet shops selling hamsters in Hong Kong – a total of 34 – were ordered to shut down immediately.
  • People who have bought hamsters from those stores will have to go to a quarantine camp.
  • “Internationally there hasn’t been evidence pets can pass on COVID to humans,” said Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health, at a news briefing on Tuesday. “To be prudent, we will take preventive actions against all possible routes of transmissions that can’t be ruled out to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread.”
  • Yesterday, the city also arrested two former flight attendents for breaking the city’s COVID-19 regulations. Their case will be heard on February 9, and if they are convicted, they face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to HK$5,000 (US$642).

The developments in mainland China

  • In China, there are quite a few big events coming up, including Chinese New Year on February 1 and also the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing from February 4-20.
  • But because of recent outbreaks across the country, both delta and omicron, the event will now only allow a small number of spectators to attend, all of whom will be required to be boosted against COVID-19.
  • Their movements will also be limited before and after the events. Most of the general public will be shut out.

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