Following the widely observed Lunar New Year holidays, many Asian countries are seeing an increase in COVID-19 infections, with health officials grappling with the highly transmissible omicron strain and expectations that numbers will continue to grow in the coming weeks.
On February 1, Asia celebrated the Lunar New Year, China’s most important holiday, despite pandemic restrictions in many nations keeping crowds and family trips to a minimum.
Hong Kong’s authorities are dealing with a slew of record cases that are putting the city’s so-called “zero-COVID” policy to the test. The city reported a new high of 614 local illnesses on Monday.
“We expect additional instances to arrive in the coming days.” We see this as some after-effects of the holiday events and clusters,” said Edwin Tsui, a spokesperson for the Centre for Health Protection, to reporters on Monday.
“We hope to still be able to limit the disease with our present containment methods.”
All cases in Hong Kong are today required to be hospitalised. Authorities said on Monday that from Tuesday, close contacts of sick people will be permitted to isolate at home. Those who test positive during their home isolation will be taken to the hospital.
Even while many other countries adjust their approaches to live with the virus, Hong Kong has aligned itself with China’s “zero-COVID” policy, which wants to completely eradicate infections. Authorities are considering imposing lockdowns on residential buildings where clusters of infections have been found, and public dining after 6 p.m. has been outlawed.