Hong Kong’s Health Secretary says a full lockdown might still take place, despite previous denials. Thus panic-buying. That said, even a ‘full’ lockdown would not be a really ‘full’ one – with the stock exchange staying open, for example. And private and international schools (known to officials as ‘the ones our kids go to’) are exempted from the early summer vacation.
The CE said Hong Kong is not able to handle the Omicron outbreak on its own and that’s why in early February she asked the central government for help.
“The central government is highly concerned about Hong Kong’s epidemic situation and it cares about Hong Kong people’s wellbeing. It has been coordinating everything Hong Kong needs and has been responding to us immediately and actively,” she said.
…“With the strong support from the central government, the SAR government will firmly follow the instruction of President Xi Jinping, and will bear the main responsibility and make it its top priority to contain the outbreak,” she said.
“The epidemic is ruthless and the situation is critical. But with the full support of the central government, Hong Kong will be able to come out safely from danger.”
There is a gap between Carrie’s patriotic alarmism and her leading officials’ actions (or lack of them). Reading between the lines, it looks like local officials are trying, in their inept way, to adapt to the realities of Omicron – but are being pulled in the opposite direction by Beijing’s determination to prove it must and can suppress the outbreak. It’s hard to tell incompetence not just from malice, but from resistance.
The semi-‘full lockdown’ that may or may not happen is still another two weeks away – by which time the exercise will be more futile than ever. (Tests for 7.5 million every three days?) Yet Beijing has put a lot of effort into convincing everyone that it’s the only way. HK01 looks inside grim-looking Mainland-built isolation and treatment facilities (English summary here), which Xinhua hails as magnificent feats of ultra-quick construction.
Some interesting charts on Hong Kong’s Covid situation here.
To add to the mood of despair – births in Hong Kong hit a 56-year low.