Hong Kong postpones elections due to fifth wave of COVID-19

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Hong Kong postponed until next May 8 the elections to the head of the Executive scheduled for March 27 due to the serious health situation that the former British colony is going through, in the midst of combating a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections caused by the variant omicron.

The current chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced the decision at a press conference in which she admitted that it is a “tough decision” but considered that all efforts and resources should be directed at controlling the pandemic.

It is the first time in Hong Kong elections of this type are delayed, for which Lam – who has not yet said whether he will run for a second term – applied the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.

“We can’t afford any distractions and we can’t afford commit mistakes”, said the head of the Hong Kong Executive, who estimated that stabilizing and reducing the current rate of infections It will take at least two months.

Lam believed that it is impossible that under the current circumstances the candidates can carry out their campaign normally and added that in the six-week delay, the approximate time to control the regrowth and the two-week period for nominating candidates established by law have been taken into account, as well as a “sufficient margin” to Let the winner form a cabinet.

In 2020, the pandemic also forced the authorities of the asian financial center to postpone the legislative elections for a year, which were to be held in September of that year and finally took place in December 2021.

That decision was also unprecedented since 1985, the year of the first elections to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong.

The fifth wave caused by omicron, the worst in the entire pandemicthe island’s health system has collapsed, which in the last two days has reported more infections than in the previous two years.

Mainland China has had to come to the aid of the former colony by sending personnel and supplies, as well as the country’s president, Xi Jinpinghas ordered the Hong Kong Executive to control the situation.

During the last three weeks, the accumulated cases in Hong Kong (7.5 million inhabitants) have shot up more than 60 percent, from 13 thousand to 37 thousand, something unprecedented in the former British colony, which managed for months to keep daily infections below 100 and now exceeds one thousand in some days -3 thousand 629 yesterday and it is expected that today they will be around 7 thousand-.

Until this regrowth, Hong Kong had managed to keep the pandemic under control, albeit at a high price: with travel restrictions among the strictest in the world, the isolation of the Asian business center has caused the exodus of numerous foreign companies, risking its status as an international financial center.

Still, the local government announced this month measures even harsher, including the reduction of social gatherings to two people and a “vaccination passport” that will come into force on the 24th, vetoing the unvaccinated from entering shopping malls, supermarkets or hairdressers.

One of the most worrying factors in this fifth wave is that it occurs with a very low vaccination rate among the elderly population: only 27 percent of those over 80 have received at least two doses, while in the general population the percentage rises to 75.4 percent.

EFE

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