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Bigger Than Wuhan, H.K. Outbreak Defies Covid Zero Playbook

  • Planned testing blitz may come too late to tame virus spread
  • City doesn’t have facilities to isolate tens of thousands
Residents queue at a Covid-19 testing facility in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. 
Residents queue at a Covid-19 testing facility in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. Source: Bloomberg
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Hong Kong is now dealing with a bigger Covid crisis than the outbreak in Wuhan that heralded the start of the pandemic, throwing into doubt whether China’s Covid Zero playbook of mass testing, isolation and quarantine can stamp it out.  

Daily cases in the city have surged to more than 6,000 from a little over 100 in less than a month, topping anything seen in China’s initial wave centered around Wuhan save for Feb. 12, 2020, when a backlog of reporting saw daily cases spike above 15,000. That, and subsequent outbreaks in China, were brought under control by lockdowns that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said are off the table.