Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the Asian financial hub would stick to a “dynamic zero” Covid-19 strategy to contain the virus as authorities face their biggest test yet to control a record number of infections.
Lam who was speaking at a weekly news briefing said she would announce further Covid restrictions later in the day after the city saw a “shocking” new record of over 600 infections on Monday.
For now, Lam said, the best option was to adhere to the ‘dynamic zero’ strategy employed by mainland China to suppress all coronavirus outbreaks as soon as possible.
“We should contain the spread of the virus as much and as fast as possible,” she said.
“We need your support, we need your cooperation. You only need to stay at home.”
Hong Kong’s stringent coronavirus policies have turned the once top global travel and business hub into one of the world’s most isolated major cities.
The economic and psychological tolls from the hardline approach are rapidly rising, with measures becoming more draconian than those first implemented at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Flights are down around 90%, schools, playgrounds, gyms as well as most other venues are shut. Restaurants close at 6pm (1000 GMT), while most people, including the majority of civil servants, are working from home.
Government quarantine facilities are also nearing their maximum as authorities struggle to keep up with their rigid contact tracing scheme.
Many health experts have said the city’s current strategy of shutting itself off as the rest of the world shifts to living with coronavirus, is unsustainable.
Doctors say mental health is suffering, particularly in families where people are earning less, or children cannot go to school due to the restrictions.
The official Chinese Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Monday that a “dynamic zero infection” strategy is the scientific option for Hong Kong.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard