Hong Kong COVID-19 case numbers double again

Hong Kong COVID-19 case numbers double again
People wearing face masks queue at a community nucleic acid testing centre for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at Sha Tin district, in Hong Kong, China, February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

The backstory:

  • Hong Kong and mainland China have a zero-COVID-19 policy, which means how it sounds – control and maximum suppression of the virus.
  • This, among other things, means mandatory mask-wearing, contact tracing, quarantine camps for close contacts and designated hotel quarantine for travelers into the region.
  • This is while many other economies around the world have taken steps to reopen. For example, Australia announced yesterday that it would open its borders finally after two years for travelers who have been double vaxxed.
  • Although this has led to some scrutiny for Hong Kong, especially as other Asian financial capitals, like Singapore, take steps to reopen their economies, Hong Kong’s overall strategy remains aligned with Beijing’s.
  • But even though the region has such strict rules, it is now seeing its fifth wave, with Saturday and Sunday each seeing around 350 cases.

The development:

  • On Monday, Hong Kong saw 607 locally transmitted cases, only 150 of which can be linked, with authorities attributing the spike to the recent Lunar New Year celebrations.
  • Authorities said on Monday that some close contacts would be able to quarantine at home for 14 days, and household members of close contacts would be able to quarantine for four days. And, from tomorrow, Penny’s Bay will start taking in low-risk COVID-19 patients.
  • The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam is set to discuss further measures, with some speculating these could include limiting the number of people allowed to dine at restaurants.
  • Health officials have said it could quickly get out of hand. Ivan Hung, a University of Hong Kong professor and member of a committee advising the government on vaccinations, said that Hong Kong, among other measures, should open more vaccination and testing centers. It should also look to limit public gathering numbers to two people who have had at least one dose of the vaccine. He also advised that close contacts undertake five days of quarantine at home.
  • “With these measures, we could still get the current wave under control but it will take eight to 12 weeks.”
  • Meanwhile, Hong Kong, which imports 90% of its food supplies – primarily from the mainland – has seen its residents stock up on vegetables, noodles and other staples after several cross-border drivers have tested positive for COVID-19, leading to fears about food supplies.

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