Omicron to challenge Hong Kong’s zero Covid-19 policy: ex-US diplomat

A former U.S. diplomat told CNBC that a highly transmissible variant of the omicron would be a “very tough challenge” for Hong Kong as it sticks to its zero-coronavirus policy.

Kurt Tang, who was the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong and Macau and head of the mission from August 2016 to July 2019, said that given the variant seemed less dangerous, there may be more opposition to the “toughness”. measure”.

Tighter restrictions – Including closing bars, cinemas and fitness centres – Started last Friday and will run until January 20th.

“We are facing a dire situation of major community outbreaks at any time, which is why we must take very decisive measures,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in announcing the new rules.

Achieving zero Covid-19 will be very difficult given the transmissibility of the omicron variant, and “will face greater political pressure not to take drastic measures against the relatively small risk of most vaccinated populations,” Tong said. He is now a partner of The Asia Group, a business consulting firm.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks to the media on vaccination services ahead of a meeting in Hong Kong on January 11, 2022.

China News Agency | China News Agency | Getty Images

About 70% of Hong Kong people have received two doses of the new crown vaccine, According to government dataHowever, Tong told CNBC that a “significant portion” of older adults are not vaccinated. “Squawk Box Asia” Thursday.

He added that the government is “fully committed” to zero Covid-19 and “regardless of the economic impact, I really can’t give up on this approach without instructions from Beijing – I don’t think it will happen.”

unhappy but quit

When asked what the public and businesses thought of the zero coronavirus strategy, Tong said: “Unhappiness is the main feeling – but also a feeling of compliance.”

Tang said it was understood that Hong Kong wanted to reopen its borders with mainland China and would need to follow the same zero-pandemic policy to achieve that.

“That’s the way it is,” he said.

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