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.
Questioned about the public and organization sentiment toward zero-Covid system, Tong said “unhappiness is the principal feeling — but also a sense of resignation.”
Individuals recognize that Hong Kong wants to reopen the border with mainland China, and that it needs to follow the exact zero-Covid coverage in buy to realize that, Tong mentioned.
“Which is just the way it can be heading to be,” he claimed.
Tong added that he doesn’t assume the border with China to open up in the first half of this year.
“The omicron problem is just quite significant, and so everyone’s going to be rather conservative in their choice making,” he said.
Allan Zeman, chairman of residence developer Lan Kwai Fong Team, beforehand defended Hong Kong’s stringent policies.
“I feel in standard, we are protected and it really is various to the horror stories I view in Europe and the United States at the instant,” he claimed in December. Zeman was a applicant in past year’s Legislative Council elections but did not handle to win a seat.