As diseases sweep across Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese city aims to distribute COVID-19 immunizations to youngsters as young as three.
The statement came late Sunday, ahead of a new wave of cases. On Monday, the city announced a fresh case count of 2,071 for the first time, with more than 4,500 preliminary positives expected the next day.
The suspension of in-class instruction in Hong Kong schools has been prolonged for another two weeks, until March 6.
The omicron variant-caused outbreak has already resulted in new regulations limiting in-person meetings to no more than two homes. Residents of Hong Kong have been flocking to supermarkets to stock up on veggies and hair salons to get haircuts.
Wherever clusters of illnesses have been found, authorities have placed lockdowns on residential structures, and public dining has already been outlawed after 6 p.m. Only persons who have been vaccinated will be allowed in shopping malls and supermarkets, while houses of worship, hair salons, and other businesses have been instructed to close.
On Tuesday, children aged 3 and up will begin receiving vaccinations using a vaccine developed by Sinovac, a Chinese company. Previously, the minimum age was set at five years old. Hong Kong has vaccinated 73 percent of its eligible population, excluding children, to the fullest extent possible.
With a population of 7.5 million people, Hong Kong now has over 7,000 patients being treated with COVID-19 or awaiting hospital admission.
Even when just a few cases are identified, Hong Kong has embraced mainland China’s “zero tolerance” policy to dealing with the epidemic, which includes quarantines, mask regulations, case tracing, and lockdowns of buildings, neighborhoods, and entire towns.
Adopting a “living with the virus” approach, as several nations have done, according to Beijing authorities and Chinese state media, would overwhelm Hong Kong’s medical system.
More than 25,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the city, with around 220 fatalities as a result of the virus.