aerial photo of city buildings

DAILY DOSE: Shanghai begins lockdown; Hong Kong’s outbreak in 7 graphs.


Beijing’s Zero-Covid strategy has shifted into a new phase as it grapples with an outbreak threatening to transform into an all-out crisis. Per the Associated Press, “China began its most extensive lockdown in two years Monday to conduct mass testing and control a growing outbreak in Shanghai as questions are raised about the economic toll of the nation’s “zero-COVID” strategy. China’s financial capital and largest city with 26 million people, Shanghai had managed its smaller, past outbreaks with limited lockdowns of housing compounds and workplaces where the virus was spreading. But the citywide lockdown that will be conducted in two phases will be China’s most extensive since the central city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in late 2019, first confined its 11 million people to their homes for 76 days in early 2020. Millions more have been kept in lockdown since then.” Only a few days ago, a Beijing spokesperson stressed that Shanghai would not be locking down under any condition.


For a few weeks, Chinese officials have been slowly introducing the public to the notion that Zero-Covid may not be forever because it has to potential of doing permanent damage to the economy. Per Nature, “China’s hard-line approach to eliminating COVID-19 seems to be softening. In his speech, Xi also flagged a more pragmatic strategy, asking that officials limit the economic impact of control measures. In practice, this means that people with asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 are being sent to dedicated isolation centres rather than hospitals, and are monitored for shorter periods than previously required. But some researchers are divided about whether the virus will spread out of control before the government has time to prepare.”


Hong Kong’s fifth Covid-19 waves is beginning to show signs of abating. It’s still early days though. An article in the Hong Kong Free Press paints a picture of how vaccinations have influenced the current state of the pandemic in the city. Per HKFP, “Hong Kong recorded its first local Omicron case on New Year’s Eve, almost three months ago. Some 4.6 million or about 62 per cent of the city’s 7.4 million people had been given two doses of vaccine at the time. Vaccines were not made available to children under 12 until late January, and crucially only about 20 per cent of those aged 80 and above had been jabbed. Despite the government’s urging and restrictions on the unvaccinated, some saw little incentive to get jabbed when the city had been almost Covid-free for eight consecutive months.”


Not every country in Asia is experiencing a dangerous uptick in cases. Singapore is the latest country to begin the process of easing Covid-19 mitigation policies in an attempt at co-existing with the virus. Per Channel News Asia, “Last week, however, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the easing of a raft of measures in ‘a major step towards living with COVID-19’, but stopped short of a complete opening up. From tomorrow, people will be able to remove their masks when outdoors. Individuals can gather and dine-in at restaurants in groups of up to 10 people. More people will see their colleagues in the office, and live performances will return. ‘Resume more normal lives, enjoy larger gatherings of family and friends, go outdoors without masks, or reunite with loved ones abroad. But do not throw all caution to the wind,’ said Mr Lee in his speech last week.’”


Australia is bracing for some potentially deadly flooding. Regional governments are actively evacuating citizens. Per ABC, “Authorities say a renewed flood threat for parts of the already sodden NSW Northern Rivers and Mid North Coast could be potentially ‘life-threatening’ as some residents in the flood-ravaged region are ordered to evacuate. Evacuation orders have been issued for parts of north and south Lismore, and low-lying parts of Kyogle, as a moderate to major flood warning was issued for the Wilsons River from early Tuesday. ‘Our soils and catchments are already saturated, meaning we’re going to see quick responses in our rivers, creeks, and streams,’ said Dean Narramore from the Bureau of Meteorology.”

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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