Covid cases in Hong Kong have reached 7,000 a day and are probably doubling every three days. Despite this, flights from the US, UK, the Philippines, India and other places remain banned to keep out a possible handful of infected passengers. But that’s the least of the weirdness.
Everyone will have to attend three Covid tests during March, and the government will attempt to build enough new isolation facilities to handle all the infections that are discovered. Everything is being done ‘with Central Government support’. But even the promised new isolation and treatment facilities (Lok Ma Chau Loop, land loans from developers, etc) will be full within days at expected infection-growth rates.
An expert doubts whether the authorities can manage to isolate people fast enough (within 24 hours) to dent the disease’s spread. And he’s reckoning on mass-testing revealing 20,000-30,000 cases a day, when forecasts show the real figure could reach maybe 10 times that.
Officials must first organize the logistics of a million tests a day. By the time they begin, Covid will probably have already infected so many Hongkongers that it’ll be irrelevant.
For extra added weirdness, schools’ summer vacation will take place in March-April to free up premises for tests, vaccinations and isolation. (The Easter break will be in… August?)
One expert (last Standard link) foresees outbreaks being contained within three months. The whole wave of Omicron will sweep through the population in that time anyway.
It looks as if Beijing is demanding massive stage-management of a ‘dynamic zero whatever’ policy in order for the CCP to claim – after nature takes its course – that it valiantly drove the virus out of Hong Kong. The official line is that this will protect the elderly, even though prioritizing suppression over mitigation will quite possibly have the opposite effect. Everyone must pretend that this makes sense.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam wants lawmakers to ask fewer questions on the government’s annual Budget so officials can focus on Covid. She also feels the ‘war’ on Covid should not be hindered by law.
The next few months will challenge not just our physical but mental health.
I think I’d rather pay the 10,000 dollar fine than exposing myself to a million of my fellow Hongkies lined up to take the test x 3 while queuing up for 6 hours at a time. I am also not going to validate this unscientific charade. Nope. I’ll pay the fine. Got shitloads of money anyway.
@Quentin – “Got shitloads of money anyway”. Lucky you! Care to shove some of it my way? Those of us with less cash will just have to leave it till the last minute and hope the whole thing falls apart before then.
I wonder if the $10,000 consumption voucher mentioned in the budget can be used for just this purpose?
End result: Nobody queues up for testing, getting infected in the process, thereby putting an end to the fifth wave; no need to isolate anyone; the backlog of testing results clears; the consumption voucher give-away doesn’t cost the government a penny as they get it all back in fines; CCP face is saved as we have all gone through the charade of “important instructions”; and CCP hubris is maintained, since the fifth wave has petered-out naturally. So, a win-win-win until the totally unprecedented and unpredictable sixth wave arrives …
If anyone can think of a better way of ensuring the entire population gets infected than making all of them queue up together for an hour or two to get tested not just once, but three times, do let the Government know so they can implement it immediately.
I hope that it’s not seditious to say so, but they are going to lose thousands of elderly and vulnerable no matter what they do, so I guess they might as well pretend that massive CCP projects sustain our sanity and our functioning economy.
@Big Al – superb!
She is a thick as mince tyrant. An idiot. But happy in dishing out misery and mayhem.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Hong Kong will never recover from the failure that is Carrie Lam
Did you know that you won’t be able to have a haircut until at least April 17? I am going to pay particular attention to FS Paul Chan, to watch him transform into a 1960s hippy. And every other guy in Hong Kong of course.
@Load Toad: Nostalgic over the good ‘ol days of CY?
– the ‘Selection’ process has gifted us a bunch of incompetents and divisive idiots – each worse than the last
With you in spirit my man, but if you don’t play the game you risk jail, even after paying (several probably) fines. I’m afraid they have us by the balls.
Well this should be interesting. We can compare say, photos of one million lined up for tests vs one million “so-called” protestors at the height of all that stuff that never happened. Police vs organisers crowd estimates for ready reference and comparison.
CY? Nostalgia? Not me. Looking forward to Carrie proclaiming Hong Kong has Covid to be dynamically under control, in October 2025.
7 million people lining up: that’s one big massive crowd. Now imagine for one moment that that crowd is going to create havoc that could easily lead to chaos as we have never seen before. A big mischievous crowd, if you like, that still remembers the gesta-popo brutality of 2019…
“Officials must first organize the logistics of a million tests a day. By the time they begin, Covid will probably have already infected so many Hongkongers that it’ll be irrelevant.”
Not quite irrelevant, if the reason for this measure is to get to zero more quickly /after/ this wave, rather than this particular measure being a damage-limitation measure for the fifth wave.
Case numbers are rising now, but within a month they will be falling again, on the other side of the epidemic curve. It will take a while for case numbers to drop to a very low level, but mass testing in April could give a helping hand to get to zero daily cases more quickly (e.g. perhaps reaching zero by mid-May) than if the epidemic were left to naturally fade out (perhaps reaching zero later in the summer)
Yes there would be far too many cases at the peak for isolation to be feasible. But by mid April, it’s conceivable that numbers would be lower and it might be possible. At that point, the high level of immunity will also be helping to reduce onwards transmission
It might not work as planned, of course
TLDR: if worried about arbitrary confinement, one may still have time to get their hands on a bottle of the “Miramistin” brand antiseptic.
How does testing get us to ‘Zero’?
I anticipate that some families will use the early summer break to emigrate or repatriate.
That’s unless the government bans outgoing flights.
Repeat mass testing could be done while cases are declining anyway. Isolate any cases that are found, and quarantine their close contacts (requires very quick test turnaround). If there’s evidence of building transmission, quarantine entire building. Repeat cycle every 3 days until there are no further community cases for at least two cycles. Might take 10+ cycles of universal testing but it could eventually get daily cases to zero quicker than without any mass testing. Would need more than 100k isolation/quarantine rooms and perhaps would start using them when daily incidence has fallen below 1000/day
It’s not infeasible. It would be extremely expensive and disruptive though. Some might say the juice might not be worth the squeeze, but that’s a different question.
Obvious risk of course is that omicron is so contagious that contact tracing wouldn’t be sufficient to catch all possible transmission events and the tail would drag on despite the repeat cycles of mass testing, each time finding a handful of new cases. That’s why in the mainland the mass testing is combined with a lockdown. Contact tracing is easy when most people stay at home.
And when we reach zero and reopen the borders, what happens when someone brings in the virus again? Just asking.
And as if we did not know already, DAB is in fact probably more pro-tyke than the Business and Professionals Alliance.
I’m all Right Jack with $1000,000++ per month for doing nothing more strenuous than lifting a rubber stamp DAB lawmaker Holden Chow said …… the vouchers should be made available only when businesses reopen.
“Right now, we’re still having a lot of restrictions. I think the government should really be cautious about the timing of giving out these consumption vouchers and make sure that these vouchers could be effectively in boosting the economy.”
WTF does he think zero income families would spend the vouchers on?
I take my hat off to you for your keen and cogent analysis.
The snag, alas, is that the measures you describe would need to be undertaken by the Hong Kong “government”, an outfit which, as any fule kno, couldn’t run a bath.
Of course, it may be that the squeeze is the main objective, with juice (health of population) just a by-product.
Pip pip! Eek!
Compulsory Universal Nucleic Testing
Sadly, Covid data from Tianjin or anywhere else in the PRC is so enormously suspect, that basing epidemiology theories on the measures the PRC implements and their “success” rate is about as sound as building castles made of sand in mid-air. China’s core strategy for maintaining zero Covid is just making up case numbers by ditching a few zeros and covering up deaths.
This falsification and alteration no doubt goes on at every level on its way up to the top, so the use of mass testing is probably the only way the central government can hope to glean a rough snapshot of how bad it really is.
The guys in charge are currently emulating the style of policies and leadership that resulted in the Great Leap Forward, so I doubt they will ever entertain the possibility that their relentless need to be seen to be “correct” should perhaps be outweighed by the possibility of double-digit megadeaths.