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The rumbling continues to grow. In the meantime, Hong Kong sticks with a zero-COVID policy.

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Hong Kong (AP) — Hong Kong residents are becoming increasingly irritated by the government’s insisting on sticking with China’s “zero-COVID” strategy, as Hong Kong reported a record-breaking number of cases on Wednesday and sneering at ever-more stringent guidelines and a plan that will check all people for the virus.

A general view shows a construction site where facilities for isolating the COVID-19 patients are built in Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Hong Kong residents are becoming increasingly annoyed with the administration’s insistence on sticking to China’s “zero-COVID” strategy as the city posted another record number of new cases Wednesday, bristling at ever-stricter regulations and a plan to test every city resident for the virus. (AP Photo/Magnum Chan)

Schools have already shifted to online education, and the summer vacations are moving ahead so that the schools could be used for testing for isolation, vaccination, and testing. Hong Kong says it will follow through with its plan to conduct tests on each 7.5 million inhabitants three times in March.

According to the “zero-COVID-19” policy, each person with positive test results must be kept within a health facility, hospital, or another government-run facility for 14 days, regardless of the symptoms. This is in stark contrast to many countries that reduce restrictions and permit people with no symptoms or mild signs to stay at home.

A woman wearing a face mask and face shield, sits in a train in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Hong Kong residents are becoming increasingly annoyed with the administration’s insistence on sticking to China’s “zero-COVID” strategy as the city posted another record number of new cases Wednesday, bristling at ever-stricter regulations and a plan to test every city resident for the virus. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“The entire world knows that we must live with the disease, but those in the Hong Kong government do not know about it,” claimed Taxi driver Chan Taiman. “It’s not like they do not know. They follow what the Chinese government says to them.”

The hospitals located in Hong Kong are already overwhelmed; construction teams of mainland China are being deployed to construct new isolation units. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the city is preparing to convert hotels halls, indoor stadiums, halls, and other quarantine sites.

Chinese medical teams also built mobile laboratories to prepare Hong Kong for the launch of massive testing.

Residents line up to get tested for the coronavirus at a temporary testing center in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Hong Kong residents are becoming increasingly annoyed with the administration’s insistence on sticking to China’s “zero-COVID” strategy as the city posted another record number of new cases Wednesday, bristling at ever-stricter regulations and a plan to test every city resident for the virus.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

“Everybody is anticipating that we will be able to identify a significant number of people infected by COVID-19 Hong Kong, so hopefully, with the help of a wide-ranging test, we can identify those who are infected and then put them in isolation,” Lam told reporters Tuesday evening.

“To make sure that success is achieved the success, we will require isolation equipment.”

Leung Chun-kit, who works in the kitchen, said he wasn’t sure the government was ready for universal testing or dealing with the findings.

A woman wearing a face mask and face shield, sits in a train in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Hong Kong residents are becoming increasingly annoyed with the administration’s insistence on sticking to China’s “zero-COVID” strategy as the city posted another record number of new cases Wednesday, bristling at ever-stricter regulations and a plan to test every city resident for the virus.(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“I believe that the government should look at increasing the number of hospital staff and facilities to assist health professionals better,” he said.

In the presentation of the city’s budget Wednesday afternoon, Finance Secretary Paul Chan announced a series of measures to provide relief for residents and small companies and aid in fighting the epidemic.

People wearing face masks walk at a downtown street in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. Hong Kong residents are becoming increasingly annoyed with the administration’s insistence on sticking to China’s “zero-COVID” strategy as the city posted another record number of new cases Wednesday, bristling at ever-stricter regulations and a plan to test every city resident for the virus.(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

After keeping the coronavirus in check with highly stringent rules on travel abroad and restrictions within the country, Hong Kong has seen an unprecedented number of cases triggered by the highly infectious Omicron variant.

The number of cases reported daily increased to over 6000 confirmed cases for the first time. It then climbed to over 7000 earlier in the week. The following Wednesday, Hong Kong said 8,674 points.

The tests of sewage samples suggest the actual number could be much higher Experts predict that citywide tests could uncover 300,000 cases.

“We likely haven’t experienced the peak of this storm, and how we handle the next two to three months is crucial and vital to containing the tidal wave; however, there is no guarantee,” Lam said.

A vendor wearing a face mask, sells COVID-19 antigen test kids at a market in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Presently, 68 percent of Hong Kong’s inhabitants are completely vaccinated, and another 10% have had one shot, as per Our World in Data.

China’s zero-tolerance policy has locked down whole cities, keeping residents locked in their homes and giving them food and food items during the extensive testing and contact tracer.

Lockdowns of smaller buildings and city blocks have drawn fierce critique. Hong Kong, a former British colony and semi-autonomous zone of China have insufficient resources for a total lockdown. Still, residents have a growing sense that it’s moving in the direction.

Hong Kong operates under the “one country two systems” principle in China However, and mainland China is gaining more authority.

Lam insists that “there is no directive by Lam’s Central People’s Government on a lockdown” and added that the present outbreak was “entirely an issue” that her administration had to deal with.

People wearing face masks wait for tram at a downtown street in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

“Our motherland is providing us with all the help is needed at this crucial phase,” she said. “But ultimately, I am accountable under the “one country two system.'”

China has reported on Wednesday the discovery of 90 cases of transmission in the domestic environment, nearly half of them in the northern Inner Mongolia region and 10 in Beijing. Shenzhen, located in Guangdong Province, which Hong Kong borders, reported seven new cases.

Guangdong also reported 38 import cases, all coming from Hong Kong, despite strict frontier controls that have stopped movement across Hong Kong and the mainland.

With the influx of people on the rise in Hong Kong on Monday, China’s top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said strict control measures are needed to avoid the higher rate of death among those who are elderly.

People wearing face masks walk at a downtown street in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Mainland China has lifted lockdowns for millions of citizens living in cities in the northern and central regions of the country. However, it remains in the process of requiring mass testing and quarantines in areas where outbreaks have been confirmed.

Practically speaking for Lam and his family, easing the zero-COVID-19 policy would also hinder trael between Hong Kong and the mainland, in which the authorities demand three weeks’ quarantine or more. Beijing will not allow Hong Kong’s frontier with mainland China until the city has zero cases.

Since the outbreak started, Hong Kong has already been operating under the strictest restrictions on business, travel, and public activities. The regulations have been in place since February. Ten also prohibit gatherings that involve more than two families. Hair salons, restaurants, and places of worship were banned from the premises.

These restrictions are expected to be tightened even more on Thursday, which is when the government launches an app to manage access to certain places.

The app will include the details of vaccinations for the user. Only those who have received at least one vaccination, or those with certain exceptions to medical treatment, can access places such as restaurants, malls, and supermarkets.

“If Hong Kong still has to adhere to the zero-COVID principle and fails to achieve it in the future, then Hong Kong would become an island as it would be isolated to the entire world, which includes China, and we already see an increase in the prices for vegetable products,” stated Francis Lun who is the chief executive officer for Geo Securities in Hong Kong.

“In out of the blue, its status in Hong Kong as an international financial center would be impacted.”

MartinTorres

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