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Coronavirus

Coronavirus: long Covid less common in fully jabbed, says UK health agency; Japan records highest daily deaths – as it happened

coronavirus:-long-covid-less-common-in-fully-jabbed,-says-uk-health-agency;-japan-records-highest-daily-deaths-–-as-it-happened

Long Covid less common in fully vaccinated, says UK health agency

Long Covid is less likely to affect vaccinated people than unvaccinated people, a review of 15 studies by the UK Health Security Agency released on Tuesday has concluded.

“These studies add to the potential benefits of receiving a full course of the Covid-19 vaccination,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from serious symptoms when you get infected and may also help to reduce the longer-term impact.”

That’s all from me, Léonie Chao-Fong, on the global coronavirus blog for today as I cross over to our Ukraine coverage. Please feel free to join me there. In the meantime, here’s a recap of all the international Covid developments:

  • Long Covid is less likely to affect vaccinated people than unvaccinated people, a review by the UK Health Security Agency released has concluded. “These studies add to the potential benefits of receiving a full course of the Covid-19 vaccination,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA.
  • The lifting of remaining Covid restrictions in England will “disproportionately impact” vulnerable sections of the population, the UK government’s scientific advisers have warned. Members of SPI-B say the removal of free Covid testing will make it more difficult for people experiencing Covid symptoms to take action, including self-isolation, potentially increasing anxiety among people who are clinically vulnerable.
  • Japan reported 236 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily deaths since the pandemic began. The country has started to see a decline in daily new Covid cases but experts have warned that deaths may continue to increase due to a recent series of infection clusters at facilities for elderly people.
  • South Korea also reported its highest number of Covid deaths in a month today as daily cases surpassed 80,000 for the first time. US health authorities advised Americans to avoid travelling to the country grappling with a fast-developing Omicron surge.
  • One of the last remaining countries without Covid – the small Pacific nation of Cook Islands – has reported its first case of the virus.
  • Papua New Guinea will reopen to vaccinated travellers from Wednesday after two years of strict border rules. Some domestic restrictions will remain, including compulsory mask-wearing in markets, shops, on public transport and places of worship.
  • Vietnam’s tourism ministry has proposed a full reopening of the country to foreign visitors and lifting nearly all travel restrictions from 15 March. The proposal, which will be submitted to the prime minister for approval, follows similar reopening steps taken by other south-east Asian countries, such as Thailand and the Philippines.
  • Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said she had “no plans whatsoever” to impose a mainland China-style “complete, wholesale” lockdown amid surging coronavirus cases that have left the city’s emergency resources overwhelmed.
  • A new wave of infections from the Omicron variant of coronavirus is moving towards the east of Europe, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, urging authorities to improve vaccination and other measures.
  • The Queen has carried out her first official engagements since it was announced that Prince Charles had tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

Our US west coast reporter, Dani Anguiano, looks at how a Californian police department is encouraging unvaccinated offers to join them.

A sheriff’s department in southern California is encouraging law enforcement officers who oppose vaccine mandates to “take back [their] freedom” and apply for jobs with the department.

The Kern county sheriff’s office released a video last week inviting applications from deputies within Los Angeles county, where officials passed an order that could lead to the termination of thousands of county workers who haven’t received the Covid-19 vaccine or provided a religious or medical exemption.

“Drive north, we have a place for you … Kern county is a community that backs the blue,” the minute-long ad says, as country singer George Strait sings The Weight of the Badge, a song paying tribute to police.

Covid-19 vaccination rates inside the LA sheriff’s department have lagged far below that of the public, with just 54% of workers fully vaccinated, despite a vaccination mandate for county employees. Last week the county board of supervisors moved to shift vaccine mandate enforcement power away from the LA county Sheriff, Alex Villanueva. Villanueva, who has criticised mask orders and said he will not fire workers who refuse the vaccine, said such an act could lead to more than 4,000 unvaccinated deputies losing their jobs.

The sheriff’s office in Kern county, a deeply conservative expanse located immediately to the north of Los Angeles, responded with its video the next day. “So take back your freedom, and APPLY today to work at the Kern county sheriff’s office. You deserve a job that welcomes you and your values, with open arms.”

Hello everyone. It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here again, bringing you all the latest global developments on the coronavirus pandemic. Feel free to drop me a message if you have anything to flag. You can reach me on Twitter or via email.

The lifting of remaining Covid restrictions in England will “disproportionately impact” vulnerable sections of the population, the UK government’s scientific advisers have warned.

Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) behavioural science subgroup, SPI-B, say the removal of free Covid testing will make it more difficult for people experiencing Covid symptoms to take actions (including self-isolation) to reduce transmission to others, potentially increasing anxiety among people who are clinically vulnerable.

The report says:

In the event of remaining restrictions being lifted, policy makers and communicators should seek to mitigate potential economic and social harms to those identifying as clinically vulnerable and those from deprived socioeconomic and minority groups.

If the legal requirement to self-isolate upon testing positive is lifted and becomes an item of public health guidance, it is likely to lead to further ambiguity among the public about the need for strict adherence.

This will disproportionately impact vulnerable sections of the population, for example those who face greater pressure to work outside the home when ill because of financial hardship, precarious employment, or caring responsibilities.

And some reaction to SPI-B’s latest report from the UK’s scientific community. From Prof Susan Michie, director of the centre for behaviour change at University College London:

My view: now is not the time to lift testing & isolation, a cornerstone of pandemic management, given high transmission, resulting in long Covid and avoidable deaths – means more illness, disability & restrictions for those of the 1/4 vulnerable to Covid who want to stay safe./

— Professor Susan Michie (@SusanMichie) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/SusanMichie/status/1493599737047621640″,”id”:”1493599737047621640″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”73eadfcb-5486-4e6a-818b-36a3e6fcdece”}}”>

My view: now is not the time to lift testing & isolation, a cornerstone of pandemic management, given high transmission, resulting in long Covid and avoidable deaths – means more illness, disability & restrictions for those of the 1/4 vulnerable to Covid who want to stay safe./

— Professor Susan Michie (@SusanMichie) February 15, 2022

From Stephen Reicher, a member of the Sage subcommittee advising on behavioural science:

A blistering critique from SPI-B (the Government's own behavioural science advisory group) on the dangers of ending testing and support for self-isolation.
Read it – I'm not sure if the Government have.
Here are some of the key points…https://t.co/wbQpiqWEFd pic.twitter.com/rDw9YW2AlW

— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/ReicherStephen/status/1493600656636231681″,”id”:”1493600656636231681″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”a7c06d29-dfd0-4b16-9188-eb7b6ae946cc”}}”>

A blistering critique from SPI-B (the Government’s own behavioural science advisory group) on the dangers of ending testing and support for self-isolation.

Read it – I’m not sure if the Government have.

Here are some of the key points…https://t.co/wbQpiqWEFd pic.twitter.com/rDw9YW2AlW

— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) February 15, 2022

It will make it more difficult for people to know when they are infected and take action to reduce transmission to others.
In other words infections (and therefore long covid, hospitalisations and deaths) will increase.

— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/ReicherStephen/status/1493601508222541829″,”id”:”1493601508222541829″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”5759b792-8d81-4c44-a325-a38f4dd7f616″}}”>

It will make it more difficult for people to know when they are infected and take action to reduce transmission to others.

In other words infections (and therefore long covid, hospitalisations and deaths) will increase.

— Stephen Reicher (@ReicherStephen) February 15, 2022

And from Dr Zubaida Haque, a member of the Independent Sage committee:

There are HUGE *inequality* implications of ending *free* covid testing and financial payments for isolation. These unproven measures will create a two-tier society where lower income groups/those in more insecure work will be LESS ABLE to protect themselves and their loved ones. https://t.co/4pVh3SouRq

— Dr Zubaida Haque (@Zubhaque) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/Zubhaque/status/1493604868686237711″,”id”:”1493604868686237711″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”10ae78d2-d1ee-4b3b-8ed2-eab4d5bc33bc”}}”>

There are HUGE *inequality* implications of ending *free* covid testing and financial payments for isolation. These unproven measures will create a two-tier society where lower income groups/those in more insecure work will be LESS ABLE to protect themselves and their loved ones. https://t.co/4pVh3SouRq

— Dr Zubaida Haque (@Zubhaque) February 15, 2022

NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said:

With more than 10,000 people in hospital with Covid, this study is a timely and important reminder that vaccines remain our best protection against the virus, reducing the chances of becoming seriously unwell as well as the effects of long Covid.

The NHS vaccination programme has helped prevent over 100,000 hospitalisations since mid-December alone, and so the NHS is clear, when eligible book in for your vaccine without delay.

Long Covid less common in fully vaccinated, says UK health agency

Long Covid is less likely to affect vaccinated people than unvaccinated people, a review of 15 studies by the UK Health Security Agency released on Tuesday has concluded.

“These studies add to the potential benefits of receiving a full course of the Covid-19 vaccination,” said Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from serious symptoms when you get infected and may also help to reduce the longer-term impact.”

Last week Boris Johnson announced that all Covid regulations in England, including the requirement to isolate after testing positive, were due to be abolished on 24 February. Whille the Omicron variant has caused fewer hospitalisations and deaths than many predicted, some scientists say the changes may be going too far, too soon.

In this week’s episode of the Science Weekly podcast, Madeleine Finlay gets the Guardian science correspondent Hannah Devlin’s view on whether there’s scientific evidence backing up this decision and what the changes could look like.

You can listen to the episode here: What will ‘living with Covid’ actually mean?

Vietnam’s tourism ministry has proposed a full reopening of the country to foreign visitors and a lifting of nearly all travel restrictions from 15 March, three months earlier than planned, Reuters reports.

The proposal, which will be submitted to the prime minister for approval, follows similar reopening steps taken by other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and the Philippines, where the Omicron variant has caused a recent surge in new infections, but fewer hospitalisations and deaths than previous variants.

The proposal includes maintaining a one-day quarantine requirement for visitors plus requiring negative Covid tests before departure and on arrival.

Vietnam announced a record 31,814 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, adding to the more than 2.54 million infections so far. It has recorded about 39,000 deaths overall.

It imposed among the world’s strictest border controls two years ago as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe.

It saw some initial success in keeping the virus out, but the policy dealt a blow to its burgeoning tourism sector, which accounted for about 10% of gross domestic product in 2019.

Foreign arrivals fell to 157,000 last year, compared with 18 million in 2019.

Since November, Vietnam has allowed foreign tourists to visit designated places under a vaccine passport programme and had originally aimed to fully reopen the industry from June.

Almost 77% of its 98 million population has been vaccinated, according to official data, one of the region’s highest rates.

Beach chairs arranged along a shore on Phu Quoc island in November 2021, as the island prepared for its first international tourists to arrive after a Covid vaccine passport scheme kicked off that month in Vietnam.
Beach chairs arranged along a shore on Phu Quoc island in November 2021, as the island prepared for its first international tourists to arrive after a Covid vaccine passport scheme kicked off that month in Vietnam. Photograph: Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images

Hello, I’m Lucy Campbell, stepping in while Léonie has a break. Please feel free to get in touch with me as I work if you have a story or tips to share! Your thoughts are always welcome.

Email: lucy.campbell@theguardian.com

Twitter: @lucy_campbell_

Summary

Here’s a quick roundup of what’s been happening so far:

  • Japan reported 236 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily deaths since the pandemic began. The country has started to see a decline in daily new Covid cases but experts have warned that deaths may continue to increase due to a recent series of infection clusters at facilities for elderly people.

  • South Korea also reported its highest number of Covid deaths in a month today as US health authorities advised Americans to avoid travelling to the country grappling with a fast-developing omicron surge.
  • One of the last remaining countries without Covid – the small Pacific nation of Cook Islands – has reported its first case of the virus.
  • Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said she had “no plans whatsoever” to impose a mainland China-style “complete, wholesale” lockdown amid surging coronavirus cases that have left the city’s emergency resources overwhelmed.
  • The UK’s high court has ruled that the former health secretary Matt Hancock did not comply with a public sector equality duty when he appointed the Conservative peer Dido Harding as head of a new public health quango.
  • A new wave of infections from the Omicron variant of coronavirus is moving towards the east of Europe, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, urging authorities to improve vaccination and other measures.
  • Papua New Guinea will reopen to vaccinated travellers from Wednesday after two years of strict border rules. Some domestic restrictions will remain, including compulsory mask-wearing in markets, shops, on public transport and places of worship.
  • A doctor from the German embassy in Moscow will conduct a coronavirus test on Olaf Scholz on his arrival in Russia, a German government source said, ahead of a meeting between the German chancellor and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
  • The Queen has carried out her first official engagements since it was announced that Prince Charles had tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday.

I’ll be handing the blog over to my colleague Lucy Campbell for the next hour. Thank you for reading.

Here’s an interesting thread from The Times’ science editor, Tom Whipple, on the UK’s Covid-19 testing and surveillance infrastructure.

First, testing itself. Currently, we are PCR testing about 300,000 people a day, and recording over a million including lateral flows. This is us on a quiet day pic.twitter.com/pw1X4HMy70

— Tom Whipple (@whippletom) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/whippletom/status/1493548135469223936″,”id”:”1493548135469223936″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”473f3945-1e69-4ba1-abe4-0adfbb5ebb37″}}”>

First, testing itself. Currently, we are PCR testing about 300,000 people a day, and recording over a million including lateral flows. This is us on a quiet day pic.twitter.com/pw1X4HMy70

— Tom Whipple (@whippletom) February 15, 2022

Other countries have done more when pushed, but none do so at this level this consistently. But this is just the front end of our testing infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/QOSmM5hQMa

— Tom Whipple (@whippletom) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/whippletom/status/1493548139902427136″,”id”:”1493548139902427136″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”0014f42e-fbe8-4434-9525-cb46d9d29c7e”}}”>

Other countries have done more when pushed, but none do so at this level this consistently. But this is just the front end of our testing infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/QOSmM5hQMa

— Tom Whipple (@whippletom) February 15, 2022

No other country does this. These surveys don't just tell us what is going on with infections now. They are solid data on transmission, reinfections etc.

This was the head of the German pandemic response's reference to it, and other things. https://t.co/KSkRJ6wpNM

— Tom Whipple (@whippletom) February 15, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/whippletom/status/1493548146508668932″,”id”:”1493548146508668932″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”0a5a0596-f4d6-45fa-9e8c-5445e7c277cd”}}”>

No other country does this. These surveys don’t just tell us what is going on with infections now. They are solid data on transmission, reinfections etc.

This was the head of the German pandemic response’s reference to it, and other things. https://t.co/KSkRJ6wpNM

— Tom Whipple (@whippletom) February 15, 2022

The Queen has carried out her first official engagements since it was announced that Prince Charles had tested positive for Covid-19 last week, having met with the Queen a couple of days earlier.

The 95-year-old monarch held virtual audiences from Windsor Castle and was pictured speaking with the Estonian ambassador via video-link from Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle.
Queen Elizabeth II appears on a screen via videolink from Windsor Castle. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA
The Queen attending a virtual audience to receive the Ambassador of Spain, José Pascual Marco Martínez (centre), and Géraldine Dufort at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen attends a virtual audience to receive the ambassador of Spain, José Pascual Marco Martínez (centre), and Géraldine Dufort at Buckingham Palace. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The Queen spent time with Charles last Tuesday, when the prince was carrying out an investiture on her behalf at her Windsor Castle home. On Thursday, he revealed he has tested positive for the virus. At the time Buckingham Palace said the Queen was not displaying any symptoms of the virus.

Yesterday Clarence House confirmed that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had also tested positive for the virus.

Jamie Grierson

Jamie Grierson

The UK’s high court has ruled that the former health secretary Matt Hancock did not comply with a public sector equality duty when he appointed the Conservative peer Dido Harding as head of a new public health quango.

The race and equality thinktank the Runnymede Trust successfully won its claim against the government over the appointment in August 2020 of Harding as interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, as well as the appointment in September 2020 of Mike Coupe as director of testing at NHS test and trace.

Two judges granted a declaration to the Runnymede Trust on Tuesday after considering arguments at a high court hearing in December.

The campaign group the Good Law Project had joined the trust in making complaints – arguing the government had not adopted an “open” process when making appointments to posts “critical to the pandemic response”.

However, judges dismissed the claim by the Good Law Project.

Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Swift concluded that Hancock had not complied with “the public sector equality duty” in relation to the appointments.

Papua New Guinea will reopen to vaccinated travellers from Wednesday, marking the end of two years of strict border rules that have virtually sealed the country off.

The country’s pandemic controller, David Manning, announced today that he had revoked rules requiring approval to enter Papua New Guinea and mandatory quarantine, Agence France-Presse reports.

Some domestic restrictions will remain, including compulsory mask-wearing in markets, shops, on public transport and places of worship, as well as a limit of 100 people for gatherings.

More than 37,000 Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Papua New Guinea since the start of the pandemic, but it is believed that the true number of cases is far higher, with low testing rates and widespread stigma about Covid-19.

The country’s health care system has long been plagued by shortages of drugs, funding, an ailing infrastructure and a severe lack of health workers.

It has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the world, with around 4% of the total population vaccinated. Last year, the Lowy Institute in Australia conducted modelling that predicted Papua New Guinea would take five years to vaccinate just a third of its population.

Russia has reported 166,631 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24-hour period, down from 180,456 the day before, and 704 further deaths, the federal response centre said.

In addition, 21,833 people infected with Covid-19 have been hospitalised over the past 24 hours, a 108.9% increase from the day before.

Our acting data projects editor, Pamela Duncan, looks into the UK’s latest Covid-19 deaths figures:

The total number of deaths involving Covid in the UK reached 183,502 in early February, figures published this morning show.

The Office for National Statistics recorded 1,242 registrations where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales in the week to 4 February, or one in 10 deaths.

This was another decrease in the weekly number of Covid deaths, falling from 1,385 deaths or 11.2% of all deaths registered in the previous week. Two-thirds of the deaths recorded in the latest seven-day period had Covid listed as the underlying cause of death, rather than a contributory cause, down from 71.2% the previous week.

Overall, the number of deaths occurring have remained below the five-year average for six weeks, now having been higher than normal for close to six months.

There was a slight increase in the number of deaths among care home residents in England and Wales in the last week covered by the data. A total of 341 care home residents died with Covid in the week to 4 February, rising from 333 a week earlier.

The figure recorded by the ONS is different to the government’s official count of 159,605 because the latter only records those deaths that are known to have occurred within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, while the ONS counts all deaths where the virus was mentioned on the death certificate.

A week after the Philippines reopened to foreign tourists for the first time in two years, the president’s spokesperson has declared the country is now at a “low risk” from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The National Capital Region and the entire Philippines now have a low-risk classification” in terms of case growth, prevalence and health system capacity, said Karlo Nograles, person for President Rodrigo Duterte.

Cases have averaged about 3,600 daily in the past week although there are concerns that infections may rise as campaigning for the 9 May presidential elections begins, with political rallies seen as potential super-spreader events.

Health officials say the number of fully vaccinated people in the Phillippines has reached around 56% of the population and hospital bed occupancy rates are at about 30%.

The government plans to lift all restrictions, the health undersecretary, Maria Rosario Vergeire, promised, but she refused to give a specific time frame. “When that happens, all restrictions will be lifted and everything will be under self-regulation,” she added.

More than 55,000 people have died in the Phillippines, according to government data, although a recent new report suggests the true number of deaths may be double the health department’s official numbers.

Our Rome correspondent, Angela Giuffrida, reports on the latest Covid-19 restrictions in Italy:

All workers in Italy over the age of 50 are now obliged to show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19 within the last six months to access their workplace.

The measure was announced in early January, when daily infections were hovering around 200,000 a day and hospitals were under pressure, and took effect on Wednesday.

The vaccine was also made mandatory for the over-50s on 8 January. Of the 2.4 million people over the age of 50 who had not been vaccinated on that date, about 1.7m are still unvaccinated, according to Wired Italia. Workers aged over 50 make up 8.8 million of the population.

Italy has among the strictest Covid-19 rules in Europe, and is easing them slowly, for example the requirement to wear masks outside was scrapped last Friday.

But Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, the far-right party that is part of prime minister Mario Draghi’s broad coalition, is pushing for all restrictions to be lifted in March.

“We can’t be the ones with the most rules,” he said.

Infections have dropped sharply in recent weeks, with 28,630 registered on Monday, and hospitalisations have been falling. However, Italy is still recording a stubbornly high death rate, with 281 further fatalities reported on Monday.

Japan records highest Covid deaths since start of pandemic

Japan reported 236 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest daily deaths since the pandemic began and bringing the country’s cumulative death toll to 20,759.

Japan has seen more than 100 daily deaths since early this year, mostly among the elderly population, amid a sixth wave of infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The total number of cases in Japan has surpassed 4 million.

The country has started to see a decline in daily new Covid cases but experts have warned that deaths may continue to increase due to a recent series of infection clusters at facilities for elderly people.

“The growth in the number of severely ill patients is likely to continue for a while,” said Shigeru Omi, chairperson of the government’s coronavirus subcommittee on Monday.

The latest figures come after the Imperial Household Agency confirmed that Princess Yoko of Japan has developed moderate pneumonia after testing positive for coronavirus. Yoko, 38, was admitted to the University of Tokyo hospital on Tuesday after complaining of a sore throat early last week.

Hello everyone. It’s Léonie Chao-Fong here, taking over the live blog from Tom Ambrose to bring you all the latest global developments on the coronavirus pandemic. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or via email.

More on the worsening coronavirus situation in Hong Kong, where hospitals are buckling under the strain of soaring cases driven by the Omicron variant and at least two medical facilities have placed patients in beds outside their entrances.

People lie in hospital beds outside Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong, as the city faces its worst coronavirus wave to date.
People lie in hospital beds outside Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong, as the city faces its worst coronavirus wave to date. Photograph: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, told reporters today she had “no plans whatsoever” to impose a mainland China-style “complete, wholesale” lockdown.

But she insisted zero-Covid remained her administration’s goal, despite mounting pressure from public health experts and business figures to switch to a mitigation strategy.

Lam said:

We have to continue to fight this anti-epidemic battle. Surrendering to the virus is not an option.

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