The large one quarantine imposed on travelers arriving in Hong Kong is being questioned after the appearance of a covid-1 outbreak9 that began with a woman who was infected in a hotel where she was confined after arriving in the territory.
Hong Kong maintains a “zero covid” strategy, in line with the policy imposed by mainland China. This strategy has made it possible to maintain a very low level of contagion, but in practice it has cut off this financial center from the rest of the world.
On Thursday, the head of the local executive, Carrie Lam, announced that the 21-day quarantine imposed on the vast majority of travelers arriving in Hong Kong will be reduced to 14 days, due to the shorter duration of the incubation period of the omicron variant, which is now the dominant one.
But in recent days, a major focus was detected in a group of social housing after the contagion of a woman who was returning from Pakistan, just before her departure from one of the 40 hotels that receive travelers arriving from abroad.
Some Hong Kong experts stressed that the long duration of the quarantine, which is one of the longest in the world, may increase the risk of “cross contamination”.
“Hotels reserved for quarantine do not meet expectations and travelers are exposed to contracting Covid-19,” said Siddharth Sridhar, an expert in microbiology at the University of Hong Kong.
Ben Cowling, epidemiologist from the same university has long claimed that the 21-day deadline is not justified from a scientific point of view and that it represents some risks.
In recent months, several cases of cross-infection have been detected in hotels, but all of them could be detected before the infected people left the premises.
“It is not surprising to have an epidemic rebound. What is surprising is to have gone six months without cases,” Cowling said, referring to cases in the second half of 2021.
“I think our lucky capital has run out,” he said.
The Hong Kong government maintains that the zero covid policy has the support of a large part of the population, but several indications point to the contrary.
According to a study carried out in January by the Hong Kong Democratic Party, 65% of the population wants to “live with the virus”, compared to 42% who affirmed this position in November.
But so far, the government has shown no sign of wanting to abandon this strategy.
The business sector, however, has sounded alarm bells that there is a brain drain and that it is facing recruitment problems.
According to a draft of the European Chamber of Commerce leaked by Bloomberg News, this territory could maintain this isolation policy until 2024.
“We anticipate an exodus of foreigners, probably the largest that Hong Kong has ever recorded,” the draft said.
The British business daily Financial Times reported this week that Bank of America, a major player in the financial sector, is contemplating moving its staff to Singapore.
Since the massive pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019, the Honk Kong government has aligned itself with Beijing on several axes, /img/2021/04/28/hong_kong_afp.png.
Lam made reopening the border with mainland China a priority. But Beijing, facing sporadic outbreaks, does not seem in a hurry.
“At a time when 2022, across the planet, is the beginning of the end of the pandemic, in Hong Kong it is the end of the beginning,” Sridhar wrote in Facebook.
The vaccination campaign has not advanced, despite the abundance of doses. hardly a 70% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and less than half of people over 70, who are the most vulnerable, have already received two doses.