With COVID-19 cases fast increasing, the Hong Kong administration is finding itself unable to handle the epidemic, with some worrying that the government’s inability to control the virus has hastened Beijing’s creeping power over the semi-autonomous region, according to media sources according to ANI.
According to official statistics, Hong Kong registered 7,528 new COVID-19 cases by nucleic acid testing on Saturday, and 9,069 more positive cases by self-reported fast antigen tests, as reported by Xinhua. This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong topped 1 million on Friday, during the fifth and deadliest wave of the illness. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Lam and other officials’ policy hesitation appears to be a reaction to rising pressure from the mainland. When the number of cases increased in mid-February and overburdened hospitals began treating patients on gurneys on the sidewalk, China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, warned Hong Kong officials to “make controlling the epidemic as soon as possible an overwhelming priority,” according to Policy Research Group, a think-tank (POREG).
The whole approach of the government has seemed to be chaotic,” said Lau Siu-kai, a Hong Kong scholar who advises Beijing.
“You can see all the complaints around Hong Kong these days,” he added. “It makes Beijing worried.”
Researchers estimate that half of the population in Hong Kong may have already been infected.
Yet when Lam addressed the local press on Monday, she seemed no closer to providing clarity on the city’s virus policies. Instead, she appeared to have a message for the Chinese officials who recently locked down millions of citizens in neighbouring Shenzhen after discovering hundreds of coronavirus cases there.
“If you want us to follow what Shenzhen is doing,” Lam said, “I’m afraid we are not up to it.”
Lam told the reporters on Thursday that she will also reconsider many of the city’s strict social separation guidelines. Tall barricades were being placed at public beaches as she spoke, as part of the steps she had vowed to avoid just days before, according to the article.
Because of Lam’s ineptitude, the Chinese mainland authorities have expanded their presence in Hong Kong. China has inundated Hong Kong with what it perceives as vital reinforcements, such as traditional Chinese medicine and protective medical equipment. Chinese epidemiologists were despatched to advise health officials, and over a thousand technicians and health care personnel were sent to conduct tests and provide patient treatment.
A temporary bridge has been erected to connect Hong Kong to the Chinese city of Shenzhen in order to move supplies and manpower more quickly. Dozens of construction workers have been sent in to build temporary government quarantine facilities and makeshift hospitals. “People like Carrie Lam and other Hong Kong officials are always anticipating Beijing’s wishes,” Willy Lam, an adjunct professor of politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong was quoted by POREG. “Beijing’s imprimatur is now more important than local public opinion for many leading Hong Kong officials,” he added.