Carrie Lam addresses issue of compensation as a result of anti-epidemic measures and COVID-19 zero policy


22nd January 2022 – (Hong Kong)   On the question of compensation suffered as a result of the anti-epidemic measures, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said during the press conference this evening that in an epidemic of this nature, inevitably businesses and individuals will be affected to varying extents. Some will be more affected, some will be less affected, but inevitably a lot of people will be affected because the government has put in so many measures on social distancing, on restricting people’s movement, on compelling people to take tests and so on. She hopes that everyone is acting in concert to tackle this COVID-19 epidemic. At the moment, it is not a question of compensation. It is a question of getting out of the COVID-19 epidemic, especially relating to the Omicron variant, as soon as possible.

Apart from this lockdowns, the government been putting a lot of people in quarantine for a much longer period, so they will be out of a job for a much longer period. However, they are making the sacrifice in order to contribute to the anti-epidemic efforts of Hong Kong, and Lam is extremely grateful to all those people who have been adversely affected as a result of these measures.
As to COVID-zero policy, Lam stressed that it is not absolute zero, rather it is “dynamic zero infection”. It’s a form of trying to tackle whenever there is a case. And this has also been the Mainland’s strategy. They have been having sporadic outbreaks in various cities, especially in recent days. The government’s strategy is to strengthen its capacity to tackle these episodic outbreaks in order to suppress the spread of the variant as soon as possible so that there will not be a massive community outbreak in Hong Kong.

The government is not aiming to absolutely attain zero cases as a strategy. But the alternative to this type of strategy will be the so-called “living with the virus” – in other words, we open our borders, we have no social distancing measures, we will, like one country, announce that everyone doesn’t even have to wear masks. In her view, Hong Kong does not possess the prerequisites to go for that approach. One is because the government still wants to open the border, not only with the Mainland but also with the rest of the world; and secondly, Hong Kong’s vaccination rate is not yet ideal. The Mainland has attained over 90 per cent. Singapore has attained over 90 per cent. As far as the first dose is concerned, Hong Kong has only achieved 77.5 per cent. Especially when the rate is very low amongst the elderly, and if the elderly get infected, the consequences are very, very serious.

She also added that although many people said that Omicron is not very serious – most of the cases are stable, which is Hong Kong’s situation today – Omicron does cause fatalities in other parts of the world. So, the government has to be extremely careful, especially those unvaccinated people.
 At the moment, the government will continue to adopt the strategy that has taken Hong Kong through the last two years. But, in the course of implementing the strategy and individual measures, Lam and her team will continuously review and improve them and try to make life slightly less difficult for the people of Hong Kong.