Hong Kong is reviving one of its toughest “COVID zero” measures, forcing patients with even mild infections caused by new Omicron sub-variants and their close contacts into centralized quarantine to tame any spread.
The rule has been enforced for all 34 people with the newest forms of the virus in the city thus far, officials said, including at least two families linked to a cluster at a Canadian school who argued that their living situations were suitable for home isolation.
It is a reversal of a practice that has allowed most mildly ill patients and their close contacts to stay at home—a measure that has been in place since February when an Omicron wave overwhelmed the city’s specially constructed COVID-19 isolation facilities.
The government said in a statement on Wednesday (June 1) that new sub-variant cases were being isolated in government facilities as a precautionary measure, and the move does not signify a change in its overall quarantine and isolation policy.
The potential revival of strict containment measures comes as the city anticipates the installation of a new chief executive, John Lee, on July 1. Lee, who oversaw the city’s isolation camps in his former role as chief secretary, has given little indication as to whether he plans to shift Hong Kong towards living with the virus like much of the rest of the world, or closer to Beijing’s hard-line posture.