With China ending its zero-Covid strategy, Hong Kong is also following suit. With the exception of the mask requirement, all measures are lifted. The reason given is that the vaccination rate is high enough. Meanwhile, the turnaround is pushing the health system on the mainland to its limits.
The Chinese Hong Kong Special Administrative Region lifts almost all corona protection measures. Hong Kong Prime Minister John Lee announced that the mandatory PCR test for travelers from abroad will no longer be required from Thursday, as will the local vaccination card, which was necessary for access to most events. The regulations on the maximum number of people who are allowed to meet are also no longer applicable. However, wearing a mask is still mandatory. "The city has achieved a relatively high vaccination rate," said Lee, explaining the easing that followed China's departure from the strict corona course. "Hong Kong has enough medicines to fight Covid and the medical staff has gained a lot of experience in dealing with the pandemic."
Just last week, Lee announced that he would open the border with China, which had been closed since the pandemic began in early 2020, until mid-January. The former British crown colony of Hong Kong had largely followed China's strict corona course in the fight against the pandemic. At the beginning of the month, the People's Republic abruptly changed course after popular protests and introduced more and more easing. However, this led to a strong wave of infections that put hospitals and funeral homes under massive pressure.
China is still easing the corona measures. In the People's Republic, the mandatory PCR test on entry will also be omitted from January 8th, according to the customs authorities. The government has already eased numerous restrictions as the rigid protective measures hurt the economy and the population increasingly rebelled against them.
However, the turnaround is now pushing the healthcare system to its limits. In addition, there are considerable doubts about the official data. The authorities reported three new deaths on Tuesday after a case on Monday. China only counts people who died of pneumonia or respiratory failure among the corona deaths. However, these low numbers contrast with the statements of funeral homes and the experience of other less populous countries after the relaxation of the corona measures.
The staff of a large hospital in the city of Chengdu in the southwest of the country spoke of having a lot to do with Covid patients. An ambulance driver said, "I've been doing this job for 30 years and I've never had so much to do." Long queues formed in front of and in the hospital's emergency room on Tuesday evening. Most of the patients who arrived by ambulance needed oxygen. "Almost all patients have Corona," said an employee. The hospital does not have any Covid medication in stock, you can only give people medicines that relieve symptoms such as coughs.
All the parking spaces around the largest funeral parlor in Chengdu were occupied, there were constant funeral processions, and smoke was pouring out of the crematorium. "We now have to do this 200 times a day," reported one employee. "We're so busy we don't even have time to eat." This has been the case since the measures were relaxed. "Many have died from Covid." An employee at another crematorium made a similar statement.
China only announced on Monday that people entering the country would no longer be quarantined from January 8th. However, other countries are now tightening their regulations for travelers from mainland China. India, Japan and Taiwan want to prescribe negative corona tests.