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Hong Kong’s omicron spike exams its zero-Covid strategy

On February 16, 2022, sufferers lie in hospital beds ready for medical remedy in a brief holding space exterior Caritas Medical Middle in Hong Kong.

Leung Man Hei | Nurphoto | Getty Pictures

Lam has insisted, nevertheless, that there are no plans for a “widespread city lockdown.

“So far as Hong Kong is worried, we have to discover our personal method out of this epidemic, and to date, our measures to include the unfold of a illness stay a official and legitimate one,” she stated.

This month, Lam stated town would follow what it calls a “dynamic zero” strategy, a minimum of till the vaccination price hits 90%. The Hong Kong authorities describes its “dynamic zero” technique as having a target of having “zero infections” — a technique it has repeatedly stated is the best method of preventing the pandemic. It entails measures such as mass community testing, sewage surveillance, contact tracing, and border controls to maintain out imported instances.

Aged vaccination charges

Lam has stated the city needs to “do better” in inoculating the elderly in an effort to hit the general 90% vaccination price goal.

“Till all these issues occur, we’ll proceed to stick to the present technique of attempting to include the unfold of the virus, or what we name sustaining this ‘dynamic zero’ regime,” she stated.

Hong Kong lately launched vaccine passes which might encourage extra individuals to get vaccinated. The passes might be required for entry to most public areas starting Feb. 24.

Companies deal with Covid restrictions

Hong Kong, alongside mainland China, is without doubt one of the final locations nonetheless taking a zero-Covid strategy. Town has maintained tight restrictions as it really works towards establishing quarantine-free travel with China.

However the measures have hindered operations and snarled journey plans, in accordance with a recent business sentiment survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

In its annual report, HSBC stated on Tuesday that “The evolving Covid-19 restrictions in Hong Kong, together with journey, public gathering and social distancing restrictions, are impacting the Hong Kong economic system, and will have an effect on the power to draw and retain workers.”

Information from town’s immigration division reveals the variety of work visas issued has dropped during the last two years. Simply 13,800 international professionals have been issued work visas beneath the Normal Employment Coverage scheme final 12 months — a decline of about 66% from greater than 41,000 in 2019, earlier than the pandemic.

That decline, nevertheless, is probably going solely partly as a result of Covid restrictions, stated Lloyd Chan, senior economist at analysis agency Oxford Economics.

“Along with the journey curbs and US-China tensions, we predict that issues over the nationwide safety regulation and modifications to Hong Kong’s political system (such because the overhaul of town’s electoral system) have weakened Hong Kong’s enchantment to international firms and traders as a world hub,” he wrote in a Feb. 9 report.

“Companies look like having issue recruiting abroad expertise, as steered by anecdotal proof,” he stated.

InvestHK, Hong Kong’s authorities company for international direct funding, responded that Hong Kong stays “a serious regional base” for companies regardless of pandemic-related challenges.

“Hong Kong continues to supply abroad companies unparalleled entry to Mainland China markets, which is our greatest aggressive benefit,” InvestHK stated in a written response to CNBC.

Hong Kong’s banking sector is “as sturdy as ever” for the reason that implementation of the Nationwide Safety Legislation, the company stated. Whole deposits in Hong Kong on the finish of June 2021 have been up nearly 8% year-over-year to greater than $15 trillion Hong Kong {dollars} ($1.92 trillion), the company stated.

A spokesman from Hong Kong’s data providers division informed CNBC that the national security law has “reverted the chaotic state of affairs … restored stability and elevated the boldness in Hong Kong, thereby permitting town to … return to the trail of growth.”

The changes to the electoral system, in the meantime, ensured that members of the legislative council acted “within the pursuits of the nation’s growth and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” it stated.

Air passenger site visitors plummets

This week, authorities extended a ban on incoming flights from 9 nations, together with the US, United Kingdom, India and Australia till April 20. The government has said the tighter border would “stop imported COVID-19 instances from putting extra strain on town’s healthcare system at this important juncture of curbing the native epidemic state of affairs.”

With the intention to reopen borders with China, Hong Kong has to align with Beijing’s zero-Covid strategy, Chan stated.

“Thus, stringent worldwide border restrictions might be maintained, hindering worldwide connectivity and miserable inbound tourism. Consequently, we anticipate Hong Kong’s zero-Covid coverage will hinder the financial restoration and weigh on its attractiveness as a world monetary hub,” he wrote in a Feb. 9 report.

Hong Kong’s cumulative caseload stays low in contrast with different international cities, at just over 75,000 cases as of Feb. 22, in accordance with authorities information. For a lot of the pandemic, each day new instances within the Chinese language metropolis have been typically within the single digits, if any.

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