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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Hong Kong is still suffering new peaks of the pandemic

Virus Outbreak Hong Kong
Kin Cheung/AP
A patient on a hospital bed is escorted to the temporary holding area outside Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong , Wednesday, March 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

While Hawaiʻi continues to ease restrictions related to the pandemic, some locations in the Asia Pacific are struggling with record levels of the coronavirus. That includes Hong Kong, which is heading for further tightening.

Hong Kong officials are planning a further restriction of movement as health workers prepare for mandatory testing of the more than 7 million people who live in the city.

On Wednesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said there would be no “complete” lockdown barring entry and exit from Hong Kong — but she said authorities are still working on the details.

The pace of the viral spread continues to be relentless.

About a month ago, Hong Kong’s daily case count was about 100. On Wednesday the daily death toll was more than that — 117 — while new cases hit a record of more than 55,000.

The city’s death toll has passed 1,000 since the pandemic began — with about 700 of those deaths taking place in the past week or so.

Elderly residents are particularly vulnerable. Fewer than a third of Hong Kong residents older than 80 are vaccinated — it’s less than 60% of those in their 70s.

The health crisis is also leading thousands to leave Hong Kong.

Last month, the city faced a net outflow of more than 71,000 people.

Financial markets have been hit — while Hong Kong stocks opened higher Thursday morning, through Wednesday trading, the Hang Seng Index was at its lowest level in two years, down about 9% in a month.

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