Hong Kong may impose a hard lockdown that confines people to their homes, authorities signalled Monday 28th February 2022, with the city’s zero-COVID strategy in tatters and bodies piling up in hospitals.
Two years of strict zero-COVID policies kept the coronavirus largely at bay, but a breakthrough of the highly transmissible Omicron variant exposed how little authorities had done to prepare for a mass outbreak.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam previously ruled out a citywide lockdown and instead has ordered all 7.4 million residents to be tested in March. But in a U-turn, health secretary Sophia Chan confirmed on Monday that it was still an option.
Hong Kong is seeing a dramatic acceleration in Covid-19 cases:
The latest Hong Kong wave seems to have re-established the link between Covid cases and deaths though:
Hong Kong isn’t alone in Asia in seeing an increasing wave of Covid-19 deaths:
The spring wave of 2021 was largely comprised of cases from Asia too, most notably in India.
Although the majority of Covid-19 cases being sequenced in Hong Kong are Omicron, around 11% were still Delta in early February.
UPDATE 1: 28th February 2022
The Chinese Global Times have said that a lockdown is probably not an option for Hong Kong:
“A citywide lockdown may not work well in Hong Kong as there’s no way for Hong Kong to control the COVID-19 in two weeks, which is the usual length of a lockdown, and Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihood cannot afford more than two weeks, Leung said, noting the city does not have a strong community-based management to ensure the order of the lockdown.”
HISTORICAL NOTE: In the UK, apart from a few notable exceptions by politicians, the various lockdowns were extremely well observed.
UPDATE 2: 28th February 2022 – Record high Covid-19 deaths reported in South Korea
Daily COVID-19 deaths in South Korea soared to a record high as critical cases rose at a fast pace amid the fast spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.
The country reported 114 more COVID-19 deaths, up sharply from the previous day’s 49. It is the highest figure since the country reported its first COVID-19 death in February 2020.
The chart for Covid-19 deaths below shows just how much of an outlier Hong Kong is at the moment. It doesn’t look like any Omicron wave we have seen so far.
UPDATE 3: 28th February 2022 – Japan quasi-state of emergency extension
Japan is considering extending the COVID-19 quasi-state of emergency once again for Tokyo and nine prefectures beyond the scheduled end date of March 6, government sources said Sunday.
With more than half of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients continuing to be filled in those areas, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will ask prefectural governors about local pandemic situations and consult with health experts before making a decision on the extension by about two weeks, they said.
UPDATE 4: 4th March 2022 – it’s not BA.2_H78Y
There is no BA.2 with H78Y in Hong Kong. pic.twitter.com/25Xep6sGer
— Josette Schoenmakers (@JosetteSchoenma) March 4, 2022