OMICRON IS AIRBORNE now, forcing scientists in one of the world’s most Covid-proof cities to scramble for new measures.
- Hong Kong has banned all flights from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France and the Philippines until February 4.
- Lunar New Year Fairs are all cancelled—a major sacrifice in a community for which the annual holiday is equivalent to Christmas in the West.
- Hong Kong scientists are tracking every single Covid case in the territory, with remarkable success so far, but warn of the real possibility that invisible lines of infection exist.
As one of the most densely packed cities in the world, a serious Omicron spread would be hard to control and potentially harm millions of people.
But Hong Kong people in general are co-operative, with almost everyone wearing a mask and using the city’s privacy-focused tracking app. Except for the over-60s, vaccination rates are now higher than 80 per cent.
And the exit plan? Like mainland China and the island of Taiwan, the city is opting to keep Covid infections as low as possible until the situation has stabilized, for example by the replacement of the virus by a variant which does no long-term harm. While some people maintain that Omicron may be it, this is far from confirmed: Covid hospitalization rates in the US are at record highs this week, and reports on “long Covid” remain worrying.
Commentators around the world note that Covid has forced every society to choose between saving the lives of vulnerable individuals and maintaining business. Perhaps surprisingly, places in Greater China have leaned to the first option, while the US and UK are leaning to the second.
The US government ended the daily requirement for hospitals to report Covid deaths, according to a January 6 health document seen by this website.
Image at the top by Chapman Chow/ Unsplash
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