Omicron Will Challenge Hong Kong's Zero-Covid Policy, Ex-U.S

Omicron will challenge Hong Kong’s zero-Covid policy, ex-U.S


A former U.S. diplomat advised CNBC that the extremely transmitted omikron variant could be a “very troublesome problem” for Hong Kong as town sticks to its zero-covid coverage.

“Stricter measures” are prone to be extra opposed as a result of the kind seems to be much less harmful, stated Kurt Tong, who beforehand served as US Consul Common and Chief of Mission in Hong Kong and Macau from August 2016 to July 2019.

Stricter restrictions – together with the closure of bars, cinemas and health facilities – have been launched on Friday final week and can run till January 20.

Asserting the brand new guidelines, Chief Govt Carrie Lam stated: “We face a really severe neighborhood outbreak at any given time, and that’s the reason we should take decisive motion.”

Given the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it might be very troublesome to attain zero covid, and “there could be extra political stress to not take drastic motion in opposition to a comparatively small threat for many vaccinated populations,” stated Tong, now a companion at enterprise advisory agency The Asia Group.

Hong Kong Chief Govt Carrie Lam talks to the media in regards to the vaccination service earlier than a gathering in Hong Kong on January 11, 2022.

China Information Service | China Information Service | Getty Photographs

In accordance with authorities knowledge, about 70% of Hong Kong’s inhabitants has acquired two doses of the covid vaccine. Nevertheless, a “vital proportion” of older persons are unvaccinated, Tong advised CNBC’s “Squawk Field Asia” on Thursday.

The federal government is “totally dedicated” to zero covid, and “whatever the financial affect, with out some instruction from Beijing to take action, actually cannot keep away from that method – which I do not see coming,” he added.

Offended however resigned

Requested about public {and professional} sentiment in direction of the zero-covid technique, Tong stated “grief is the first emotion – but additionally the spirit of resignation.”

Folks perceive that Hong Kong desires to reopen the border with mainland China, and to attain that it must observe the identical zero-covid coverage, Tong stated.

“That is the best way it will be,” he stated.

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Tong added that he didn’t count on to open the border with China earlier this yr.

“The Omicron problem is essential, and so everybody can be completely conservative of their resolution making,” he stated.

Alan Zeman, chairman of property developer Lane Kwai Fong Group, had earlier defended Hong Kong’s strict guidelines.

“I feel usually, we’re secure and that is completely different from the horror tales I see in Europe and america in the mean time,” he stated in December. Zeman was a candidate in final yr’s meeting elections however didn’t win a single seat.

There have been 12,821 confirmed instances and 213 deaths in Hong Kong because the outbreak started.

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