Omicron will challenge Hong Kong’s zero-Covid policy: Ex-U.S. diplomat

Omicron will challenge Hong Kong’s zero-Covid policy: Ex-U.S. diplomat

Marcel Stevens

Marcel Stevens

Marcel has over 12 years in journalism who enjoys writing, jogging, reading and tennis.


The very transmissible omicron variant is heading to be a “extremely difficult challenge” for Hong Kong as the town sticks to its zero-Covid policy, a previous U.S. diplomat informed CNBC.

There will very likely be additional opposition to “draconian steps” presented that the variant appears to be significantly less unsafe, explained Kurt Tong, who was earlier U.S. consul general and main of mission in Hong Kong and Macao from August 2016 to July 2019.

Tighter restrictions — which include the closure of bars, cinemas and conditioning centers — kicked in on Friday very last week and are established to last right up until Jan. 20.

“We are experiencing a extremely dire problem of a main local community outbreak any time, and that’s why we have to get really decisive actions,” Chief Government Carrie Lam mentioned when announcing the new guidelines.

It will be really challenging to attain zero Covid presented the transmissibility of the omicron variant, and “there will be a lot more political pressure to not have draconian actions be instituted in opposition to a rather smaller possibility for most of the vaccinated inhabitants,” reported Tong, who is now lover at business enterprise advisory agency The Asia Group.

Hong Kong Main Government Carrie Lam speaks on the vaccination services to the media prior to a meeting on January 11, 2022 in Hong Kong.

China Information Support | China News Service | Getty Photos

About 70% of Hong Kong’s populace has obtained two doses of a Covid vaccine, in accordance to governing administration data. Even so, a “significant proportion” of aged people today are unvaccinated, Tong explained to CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.

The govt is “fully fully commited” to zero Covid, and “genuinely cannot back again away from that strategy, regardless of the economic influence, devoid of some instruction from Beijing to do so — which I do not see coming,” he extra.

Unhappy but resigned