Hong Kong is struggling to deal with the worst outbreak of the coronavirus since the beginning of the epidemic, warning that it does not have the testing capacity to implement the strict strategy issued by Beijing.
In Shenzhen and Shanghai, in mainland China, Officials imposed restrictions on millions of people within days of the local outbreak In order to test each resident. But Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam indicated on Monday that her city does not have the same capacity.
“Hong Kong is very different from many mainland cities, so we can’t make any comparison,” Lam told reporters at a press conference.
Ms. Lam said the difference lay in resources and governance systems. Shenzhen and Shanghai can test millions of people daily; Hong Kong health officials can only test between 200,000 and 300,000 people a day.
Hong Kong, one of the last places in the world still trying to get rid of the virus rather than live with it, has recorded more than 700,000 cases and 4,066 deaths since late January. Over the past week, Hong Kong has averaged more than 280 deaths and 21,000 new infections per day, According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
It’s a strategy imposed by Beijing but looks increasingly out of reach for Hong Kong, which still maintains freedoms not found on the mainland.
In Chinese cities Wuhan And the XianHowever, officials halted daily life and confined residents to their homes for weeks until local cases disappeared. In Tianjin, hmm The test for each resident has begun After only 20 cases of coronavirus have been reported.
On top of separating Hong Kong from the mainland’s approach, Ms Lam said she would not consider tightening social distancing measures because she had to think about how residents felt about them.
“I have to think about whether the public will accept more measures, so we will not casually roll out more distancing measures,” Ms Lam said.
The outbreak and Ms Lam’s ability to control it are seen as a test of her leadership, although not identified by ordinary Hong Kong residents. The city’s next leader will be elected on May 8 and decided by an “election committee” of more than 1,400 CPC loyalists.
Ms Lam has been under pressure from the public to stick to a schedule for mass testing since she first raised the possibility in mid-February.
Fears of some kind of lockdown in Wuhan or Xi’an prompted residents to do so Empty supermarket shelves and storage medications. It has also displaced the city’s expatriate community, many of whom are tired of two years of draconian measures against the pandemic and uncertainty about how and when the restrictions imposed on the city will end.
“If you want us to follow what Shenzhen is doing, which is to introduce mandatory comprehensive testing in three days, I’m afraid we are not able to,” Ms Lam said. “This is a reality we must face.”
on Monday, Hong Kong International Airport officials announced Mainland airline passengers will no longer be able to board the ferry from Shenzhen’s Shekou port to Hong Kong International Airport, forcing the suspension of service, starting Tuesday.
Adel Hassan Contribute to the preparation of reports.