In Hong Kong, the “zero Covid” strategy put to the test by Omicron

Queue for a Covid screening in Hong Kong, February 14, 2022. REUTERS - LAM YIK

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

The Hong Kong government is maintaining its policy called "dynamic zero Covid" which had, until recently, made it possible to stop the virus at the borders at the cost of unprecedented isolation.

But since the Omicron variant managed to enter the special administrative region, public services are overwhelmed. 

Advertising

Read more

With our correspondent in Hong Kong,

Florence de Changy

Hong Kong hospitals have reached their

maximum occupancy rate

since Monday February 14 and nearly 10,000 people are waiting to be taken care of.

On Tuesday morning the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam announced that Hong Kong had procured 100 million rapid antigenic tests which should be distributed as of Tuesday in priority to the elderly, very little vaccinated.

Two new social housing buildings, offering 3,000 apartments, as well as 10,000 hotel rooms will also be mobilized to isolate people who are infected but with mild symptoms.

Schools will remain closed, restaurants must still close at 6 p.m. and public gatherings of more than two people are prohibited in the street, under penalty of a fine of 550 euros.

Some “non-essential” businesses are also closed.

Due to the contamination or quarantine of many truckers carrying fresh food from southern China, the stalls of vegetables and some meats are increasingly empty.

Ineffective massive isolation against Omicron?

The "dynamic zero Covid" policy advocated by Hong Kong, along

the Chinese line

, consists of trying to isolate each source of infection, by hospitalizing all positive cases and in particular by isolating an entire building as soon as a case is spotted there.

But since the highly contagious Omicron variant has managed to infiltrate all the districts of the territory, this strategy is showing its limits.

It is out of the question to give up,

” declared Carrie Lam.

While the epidemic had caused the death of only 213 people in two years, eight new patients died in one week, seven people over 70 and a 4-year-old boy.

Most experts believe that Hong Kong is only at the beginning of this fifth wave.

Newsletter

Receive all the international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application

google-play-badge_EN

  • hong kong

  • Coronavirus

  • Health and medicine

  • Carrie Lam

Keywords: