HONG KONG (Reuters) – Having discussions and making “general remarks” about Hong Kong’s coronavirus strategy is not illegal and does not violate the Chinese territory’s national security law, the government said on Sunday, as it grapples to control a rise in cases.
Hong Kong has followed China in sticking to a zero-COVID policy with the economic and psychological tolls rapidly rising, and measures becoming more draconian than those first implemented in 2020.
Experts have said that the current policy is not sustainable as cases continue to increase due to the highly transmissable Omicron strain.
Hong Kong’s policy to achieve “Dynamic zero infection” was the most effective way to fight the outbreak and protect public health, the government said in a statement.
The statement came after local legislator Junius Ho said that experts who suggested Hong Kong should live with the virus the way Western experts do may have violated its national security law, public broadcaster RTHK reported.
More than 1 million of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents are not vaccinated, exposing them to high chance of infection or even a risk of death, the government said.
While Hong Kong succeeded in keeping the virus under control for much of 2021, it has seen a spike in infections in January. There have been over 700 locally transmitted infections in January so far compared with just two in December.
The city has recorded around 13,600 infections since 2020 and 213 deaths, far lower than other major cities.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)