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11 March 2022

Hong Kong faces its pandemic peak

A zero-Covid policy and low vaccination rates have left the population vulnerable.

By Patrick Scott

Hong Kong is experiencing the highest confirmed Covid-19 death rates for any large country or region throughout the entire pandemic.

The weekly rolling average hit 255 deaths a day on 10 March, which, for a city of roughly 7.5 million people, is a rate of 33.7 deaths per million per day. This is the highest figure on record for any territory with a population of more than one million people.

The UK’s highest recorded figure throughout the pandemic was a rate of 18.3 deaths per million people, recorded during the height of the January 2021 peak.

Hong Kong is a densely populated city that has, until now, had comparatively low numbers of Covid-19 cases and was pursuing a "dynamic zero" Covid-19 policy under the instruction of mainland China. This has left the population of Hong Kong vulnerable due to low levels of infection-acquired immunity. It has also resulted in vaccine hesitancy among more vulnerable residents with only 50 per cent of those aged 70 and above having received two or more vaccine doses according to the government.

Cases have begun to fall in the past two days, but because hospital admissions and deaths lag behind infection numbers worse may still be to come for the city in the next fortnight.

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