Hong Kong’s current outbreak of Covid-19 has been so deadly that more people have died in the city than the official death toll in the whole of the rest of China. The grim number is likely to continue climbing for weeks.

Almost 95% of those deaths came in just last month, as Hong Kong’s outbreak of the omicron variant swept through the city, filling mortuaries and possibly infecting half of its 7.4 million residents. Although the outbreak appears to have peaked in early March, deaths are expected to keep rising since they lag infections and the virus continues to spread through some of the city’s most vulnerable care-home residents.

Hong Kong’s situation is not completely comparable to that on the mainland, as Chinese data probably undercounted deaths in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province in early 2020. However, with Hong Kong’s population barely 0.5% of the mainland’s 1.4 billion, the soaring toll shows how serious this problem is not only for the city’s government but for Beijing, which is trying to maintain a Covid Zero policy nationwide.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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