Hong Kong Turns Into A Ghost Town As Omicron Smashes All Social Activity – Mothership.SG

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Hong Kong has become a ghost town as residents have been forced to stay at home as the Covid-19 Omicron variant rages, overburdening the healthcare system.

Photos uploaded by Hong Kong Free Press February 22 showed the streets empty and deserted, with few exits.

The images are sad to watch as Hong Kong’s entire population of nearly 7.5 million is confined to a territory known for its bustling city life and renowned for having some of the most densely populated neighborhoods on the planet.

Cases set to soar in Hong Kong

Nearly 7.5 million people in Hong Kong will be required to undergo a mandatory Covid-19 test in March, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced. The Guardian reported.

The territory’s testing capacity would be increased to 1 million a day or more.

“Since we have a population of around 7 million people, testing will take around seven days,” she said.

Since Feb. 15, Hong Kong has reported about 5,000 new daily infections, with Omicron cases threatening to overwhelm its health system.

It is now around 7,000 cases per day.

The current surge in cases began in early 2022 with a handful of cases which then exploded overnight.

The financial hub has recorded 60,363 cases and 311 deaths.

Medical experts from the University of Hong Kong have predicted new infections could peak at 180,000 a day in March.

Social restrictions should be tightened

Bloomberg reported that mainland Chinese officials have said their experience shows a lockdown will be more effective in containing virus cases in a shorter time frame.

But no source was cited for this information as the people asked not to be identified as the talks are confidential.

In the latest development, Hong Kong is set to further tighten Covid-19 social distancing rules as it prepares to launch a so-called vaccine pass on February 24 to limit entry to venues depending on the inoculation status, South China Morning Post reported.

“We urge every member of the public to help in the fight against the epidemic, in particular by reducing unnecessary social contact, and by working from home if possible… But if you have to go out, in a shopping center for example, bring the vaccine pass and avoid crowded places,” Assistant Secretary for Food and Health Kevin Choi said, according to the SCMP.

context

Hong Kong has largely aligned with mainland China’s Covid Zero policy, which aims to totally eradicate epidemics.

This is in stark contrast to many other countries that live with the virus and treat it as endemic.

Many in Hong Kong are also skeptical of a continental-style mass lockdown.

Lam said no such measure was being considered in Hong Kong because it was “unrealistic”.

However, Beijing sees its Covid Zero strategy as an ideological counterpoint to the United States, which has the highest pandemic death toll in the world.

President Xi Jinping has ordered Hong Kong to contain the outbreak using “all necessary measures”.

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Joel C. Hicks