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Hard lockdown looms in Hong Kong as Omicron deaths spike

A doctor takes a swab from a woman to test for the Covid-19 virus. Image: Chinatopix Via AP

A doctor takes a swab from a woman to test for the Covid-19 virus. Image: Chinatopix Via AP

Published Mar 1, 2022

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A sudden rise in Covid-19 Omicron cases and deaths in the Chinese city of Hong Kong could soon see citizens face another hard lockdown.

Despite China already having a strict “zero-Covid” strategy aimed at minimising Covid-19 infections with tough restriction, cases in the country have been escalating.

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Hong Kong reported 34 466 additional Covid-19 cases and 87 deaths on Monday, which is quadruple the number of cases from the previous week of 7 500.

Since the onset of the pandemic in the city in February 2020, a total of 44 386 cases have been recorded with 577 deaths.

A spokesperson from the Hong Kong Hospital Authority told Reuters in an email that hospital and public mortuaries had reached their maximum capacity and were under immense pressure due to increased Omicron deaths.

“The storage space in hospital mortuaries has reached full capacity,” said the Authority.

Hong Kong Covid-19 deaths. Image: Our World in Data.

Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Carrie Lam, said during a media briefing on Monday that the next three months will be crucial to controlling the epidemic.

“As we have seen, this highly transmissible Omicron variant has been ravaging the whole world, leading to an exponential growth in infections,” she said.

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Lam said the Hong Kong government would implement five anti-epidemic steps in the city in an attempt to control the escalating infections and deaths.

- Citywide universal Covid-19 testing is scheduled for mid-March, as more than 7 million of the city’s residents will be required to undergo testing three times.

- The Hong Kong government is building a hospital for contingency use in an area with concentrated cases, the Lok Ma Chau Loop area.

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- There will be strict border control measures such as the place-specific flight suspension in order to prevent imported cases.

- Social distancing measures will be tightened to reduce people’s flow and prevent the spread of the virus.

- And vaccination has been encouraged, especially for the elderly.

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