Hong Kong’s case numbers have exploded in recent days after the week’s Lunar New Years celebration, even with limits on in home gatherings of multiple families, and a two-person limit to public gatherings. Taiwan so far has not experienced the same spike, despite looser COVID protocols in the country.

Hong Kong is also expanding the list of locations for which vaccines are required now to salons, malls, and markets, partially in an effort to combat incredibly low vaccination rates amongst wide distrust of the authoritarian government and its vaccination programs. The Hong Kong government, which since the pandemic has slipped into deeper control from the PRC, has mostly provided Chinese-made vaccines along side Chinese-imported BioNtech vaccines, with the mRNA vaccines themselves linked to a spate of post-vaccination deaths in Hong Kong.

This also marks a reversal in the roles between the PRC and Hong Kong, with Hong Kongers initially fearing the spread from China amidst a lack of transparency regarding the spread, but now a Chinese fear of the spread from Hong Kong.

It is also providing fuel amongst many in the Western media who have been deeply critical of COVID-zero policies, and aim to pressure China to reopen transit without quarantine requirements. These efforts have been largely dismissed despite their track-record of success relative to the failures of the US and Europe and deaths in the millions.

Much of the recent community spread is blamed in imported cases from such countries, and Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States have all been blacklisted on a flight ban list, enraging many in those countries.

Staff writer: Ari B