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Hong Kong delays an election amid a Covid surge as leaders ‘give attention to the epidemic.’

Hong Kong will postpone the election of its subsequent chief in order that it could possibly give attention to containing a surge in coronavirus circumstances pushed by the Omicron variant, the town’s chief govt stated on Friday.

The chief of Hong Kong just isn’t elected by the general public, however by an “election committee” of greater than 1,400 backers of China’s Communist Get together. The vote by that committee, which was to happen on March 27, was rescheduled for Might 8, stated the chief govt, Carrie Lam.

She additionally introduced a plan to introduce obligatory testing for the town’s complete inhabitants of seven.5 million. She had beforehand rejected calls from pro-Beijing lawmakers to introduce obligatory common testing.

“Our authorities must give attention to the epidemic,” Mrs. Lam stated at a information convention on Friday. “We can’t afford to lose.”

Hong Kong is experiencing its worst wave of the pandemic but, with sufferers ready on sidewalks exterior overwhelmed hospitals, and quarantine amenities reaching capability. On Friday, over 3,600 new circumstances had been reported. Earlier than this week, the town had by no means seen greater than 2,000 each day new circumstances.

Mrs. Lam stated that the town was not planning to enter lockdown because it continues to make use of a “dynamic zero” strategy, aiming to crush every virus outbreak.

“In our case, having examined the distinctive state of affairs in Hong Kong, we’ll in all probability simply go for common testing of everybody, however testing extra occasions,” she stated on Friday.

Earlier than the Omicron surge, Hong Kong had largely managed to keep away from the worst of the pandemic. It has recorded 240 Covid deaths over the previous two years, together with the ten deaths reported on Friday.

Earlier this month, the town put into place its most restrictive social-distancing guidelines but, together with limiting to 2 the variety of households allowed to satisfy in non-public. The speedy rise in circumstances pushed the town to cease hospitalizing all Covid sufferers and to as a substitute instruct some individuals with few or no signs to quarantine at authorities facilities or at house.

Mrs. Lam, who was elected in 2017, has not stated whether or not she’s going to run once more.

China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong via a nationwide safety legislation and a sweeping crackdown on dissent. In 2020, the Hong Kong authorities postponed the town’s September legislative election by one yr, citing the pandemic. The professional-democracy opposition noticed the transfer as an try to gradual its electoral momentum and keep away from the defeat of pro-Beijing candidates.

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