How do you squash COVID-19 cases back to zero when you’re facing more than 600 cases a day?
With the healthcare system steadily getting overwhelmed, Hong Kong has announced its toughest restrictions in an attempt to halt the virus’ spread.
Heightened Restrictions and Vaccination-Differentiated Measures
From 10 to 24 February, gathering at home will be capped to two families. The size of public gatherings will go down from four to two people.
The vaccine bubble arrangement, which allows only those with at least one jab to enter select premises, will be expanded. It now includes shopping malls, supermarkets, wet markets, religious venues and hair salons.
From 24 February, everyone needs at least one jab to be able to dine-in at any premise. By the end of April, they need at least two shots, and by the end of June, those who had two shots for six months will need to get their third jab before entering a restaurant.
Additionally, all eateries will not be available for dine-in from 6pm to 5am. Premises that have been closed like gyms, bars, and cinemas will remain closed.
The fine for not following mandatory testing orders has also been raised, from HK$5,000 to HK$10,000.
“Please Stay At Home”
Chief Executive Carrie Lam described the situation as “dire”, and pleaded with residents to stay at home. “We need your support, we need your cooperation.”
The vaccination rate for those older than 70 is still less than 50%, which means there’s more than 500,000 residents at risk of severe illness or death. This would pose a huge strain to hospitals, which are already struggling with the high number of daily cases.
Overall, 73% of the city’s 7.4 million population have been fully vaccinated, but it is not enough to contain the virus. Hong Kong reported the highest number of infections on Monday (7 February), with cases doubling every three days. There are currently more than 600 cases daily.
With the city’s contact-tracing and isolation measures coming under severe strain, queues for testing have become longer than ever, and the rules for quarantine facilities are everchanging.
HK Will Stick To Zero-COVID Strategy
The zero-Covid strategy, which is employed by mainland China to suppress all COVID-19 outbreaks as soon as possible, will continue to be Hong Kong’s main strategy as well.
Reader Bao: Eh, I thought the leader got say government must consider the general tolerance of the public while forming policies? Aren’t all the businesses and people’s mental health suffering already? Cannot tolerate liao lah!
Reader Bao, you are absolutely right. But Mrs Lam has affirmed that Hong Kong will continue to try and contain the spread of the virus as much and as fast as possible.
This is largely the reason why they have imposed such strict measures despite the public’s seemingly faltering tolerance for these restrictions.
Well, if these restrictions work to get the cases back to single digits, Hong Kong would be able to relax restrictions much faster than if they allowed the virus to run rampant.
As always, when dealing with COVID-19: Win some, lose some.
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