China's 'zero-Covid' policy doubles as a loyalty test

Hong Kong can open to the mainland or the world - it must choose

Healthcare workers in Hong Kong attending to a patient with Covid-19 symptoms. Legislator Regina Ip backs sterner measures, with the mainland as a model. She says Hong Kong's case numbers are soaring while its borders are mostly closed, leaving the city ''falling between two stools'' - neither as effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19 as mainland China, nor as open as Singapore. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
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Hong Kong is about to endure its worst three months since the Covid-19 pandemic began. With new case numbers running at thousands per day and doubling every few days, the financial and trading hub of 7.5 million people faces an outbreak that - were it happening in mainland China - would trigger a citywide lockdown, with millions of people told to stay home, if necessary for weeks.

Hong Kong will not close in the same way, Chief Executive Carrie Lam assured the public on Tuesday, even as she admitted that a fifth Covid-19 wave is overwhelming hospitals and quarantine sites. The central government, knowing that a lockdown cannot simply be imposed from the mainland, says that primary responsibility for pandemic control rests with Hong Kong.

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