Hong Kong's dynamic zero tolerance 'still our policy': top epidemiologist
Published: Feb 22, 2022 01:48 AM
The second batch of medical aid team with 114 members from the Chinese mainland arrives in Hong Kong on February 19, 2022. Photo: VCG

The second batch of medical aid team with 114 members from the Chinese mainland arrives in Hong Kong on February 19, 2022. Photo: VCG

Chinese top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan said on Monday that "we will not tolerate large numbers of elderly people dying of COVID-19, thus our policy is striving to clear off all the infections in Hong Kong." 

In a video Zhong made for residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), the Chinese top expert on respiratory disease said in Cantonese that 18 years ago he visited Hong Kong many times to work with experts who advised the HKSAR government in the fight against the SARS disease. "No matter what political views you have, when we fight the virus, the highest human rights are the people's lives, healthy lives," Zhong said. 

Hong Kong has been fighting a highly severe epidemic outbreak as the Chinese city fights the Omicron and Delta variants simultaneously. It reported a record high of 7,533 infections on Monday with a 11-month-old baby girl as the city's youngest fatality caused by COVID-19, according to local media reports. 

Since the beginning of 2020, the anti-epidemic measures and actions taken by the HKSAR government proved to be effective, keeping the infection and death rates at low levels compared to the global average, ensuring the social stability, Zhong noted. 

Omicron has mild symptoms and a low mortality rate close to seasonal influenza. For this reason, the public should not worry too much. However, it is far more dangerous than influenza, the top epidemiologist noted. "On one hand, Omicron is highly contagious. On the other, the mortality rate of people over 60 years old will increase significantly," he said. 

Preventing transmission, strengthening vaccination and treatment, and increasing the stock of medicines are three suggestions laid out by Zhong. 

While some Western media outlets and observers debate about whether Hong Kong should stick to the dynamic zero tolerance policy, which has been proven effective in containing the outbreak in the mainland, Zhong said that our policy will still be striving to clear all the infections. 

He also said he firmly believed that with the support of the central government, the mainland, and particularly the efforts made by the HKSAR government, including nucleic acid tests, and fast test, the construction of Fangcang makeshift hospitals and medical staff support, we will surely conquer the difficulties and gain victory against the fifth wave of the outbreak.