Hong Kong omicron spike tests zero-Covid approach

On February 16, 2022, patients lay in hospital beds awaiting treatment in a detention facility outside Caritas Medical Center in Hong Kong.

Leung Man Hei | Nurphoto | beautiful pictures

However, Lam emphasized that there are There are no plans for a “massive city shutdown.

“For Hong Kong, we need to find a way out of this epidemic, and so far our measures to prevent the spread of the disease have remained a legal and valid one,” she said. .

This month, Lam said the city will stick with what it calls “no move” strategy, at least until vaccination rates reach 90%. The Hong Kong government describes its “no movement” strategy as have a “no infection” goal — a strategy it has repeatedly said is the most effective way to fight the pandemic. It requires measures such as mass community testing, wastewater monitoring, contact tracingand border control to avoid import cases.

Vaccination rates for the elderly

Lam said the city needs to “do better” in vaccinating the elderly reaching the target of 90% general vaccination rate.

“Until all of that happens, we will continue to stick to our current strategy of trying to stop the spread of the virus, or what we call ‘maintained mode’,” she said. move no’.

Recently introduced Hong Kong vaccine pass this could encourage more people to get vaccinated. Passes will be required to enter most public spaces starting February 24.

Businesses deal with Covid restrictions

Hong Kong, along with mainland China, is one of the last places to still adopt a zero-Covid approach. The city has maintained tight restrictions as it works to establish quarantine-free travel with China.

But the measures have hampered activity and difficult travel plans, according to one recent business sentiment survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

In its annual reportHSBC said on Tuesday that “Evolving Covid-19 restrictions in Hong Kong, including travel restrictions, public gatherings and restrictions on social distancing, are impacting the Hong Kong economy.” , and can affect your ability to attract and retain employees.”

Data from the city’s immigration department shows that the number of work visas issued has fallen over the past two years. Last year, only 13,800 foreign professionals were granted work visas under the Common Employment Policy program – down about 66% from more than 41,000 in 2019, before the pandemic.

However, that drop could be only partly due to Covid restrictions, said Lloyd Chan, senior economist at research firm Oxford Economics.

“In addition to travel restrictions and US-China tensions, we think concerns about national security legislation and changes to Hong Kong’s political system (such as an overhaul of the voting system) election) has weakened Hong Kong’s appeal to foreign companies and investors as an international hub,” he wrote in a Feb.

“Companies seem to be having a hard time recruiting talent abroad,” he said.

InvestHK, the foreign direct investment agency of the Hong Kong government, responded that Hong Kong remains the “main base in the region” for businesses despite challenges related to the pandemic.

“Hong Kong continues to provide foreign businesses with excellent access to the Mainland China market, which is our biggest competitive advantage,” InvestHK said in a written response to CNBC. .

The agency said Hong Kong’s banking sector was “stronger than ever” since the implementation of the National Security Law. The agency said that total deposits in Hong Kong at the end of June 2021 increased by nearly 8% year-on-year to more than HK$15 trillion ($1.92 trillion).

A spokesman from Hong Kong’s information services department told CNBC that national security law has “reversed the chaotic situation … restored stability and strengthened confidence in Hong Kong, thereby allowing the city … to return to the path of development.”

Changes to the electoral systemmeanwhile, ensure that members of the legislative assembly act “in the interest of the country’s development and the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong,” it said.

Air passenger traffic plummeted

This week, the authorities extending the ban on incoming flights from nine countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Australia, through April 20. the government has said that the border is tighter would “prevent imported COVID-19 cases from placing additional pressure on the city’s healthcare system at this critical juncture in containing the local epidemic situation.”

To reopen its border with China, Hong Kong must match Beijing’s Covid-free approach, Chan said.

“As a result, strict international border restrictions will be maintained, hindering international connectivity and reducing domestic travel. We therefore anticipate Hong Kong’s zero-Covid policy to hinder economic recovery and weigh on its attractiveness as a global financial center,” he wrote in a February 9 report.

Hong Kong’s cumulative amount remains low compared to other global cities, just over 75,000 cases as of February 22, according to government data. For much of the pandemic, daily new cases in the Chinese city are often in the single digits, if any.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/24/hong-kongs-omicron-spike-tests-its-zero-covid-approach.html Hong Kong omicron spike tests zero-Covid approach

Drew Weisholtz

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