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Virus chaos pushes more expats to join Hong Kong exodus

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  • Virus chaos pushes more expats to join Hong Kong exodus

    Virus chaos pushes more expats to join Hong Kong exodus
    By AFP

    March 7, 2022
    Manon BILLING

    For the last eight years Mathilde and her family have called Hong Kong home, but as the coronavirus tears through the city they are joining an exodus of foreign workers looking for an escape route.

    “We are leaving and we will come back to empty our house whenever that is possible,” she told AFP, declining to give her surname and nationality. “All our close friends are leaving.”

    For Mathilde it was the risk of being separated from her three Hong Kong-born children that was the final straw after two years of tough “zero-Covid” restrictions.

    “We want to get our children out of here above all,” she said.
    Hong Kong used mainland China’s “zero-Covid” strategy to keep the virus at bay, until the highly infectious Omicron variant broke through at the start of the year.

    But while other places that deployed similar tactics such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are learning to live with the virus, Hong Kong is doubling down — even as it records tens of thousands of new infections each day.

    The city has been ordered by China, the only major economy still pursuing zero-Covid, to curb the outbreak at all costs.
    “If there was a road map and we knew that there’s some light at the end of the tunnel we might stay,” said Heiko, a German entrepreneur who works in artificial intelligence.

    “Since this is not the case… we’ve decided to leave.”

    Heiko’s youngest daughter recently celebrated her second birthday.

    “Her entire life has been a sequence of lockdowns, multiple stays in quarantine hotels, closed playgrounds and closed kindergartens. She’s met her grandparents only once,” he sighed.

    Lucy Porter Jordan, a sociologist at the University of Hong Kong, said that, before Omicron, Hong Kong “had the restrictions but you also had the safety”.

    “If you take that out of the equation, you end up with this kind of perfect storm.”

    Most of those leaving, she added, were people with children and “people that have the means”.

    Over the last fortnight Hong Kong has looked more like New York or London at the start of the pandemic than a city which had two years of hard-won breathing room to get ready.

    The government was caught flat-footed with few plans in place to deal with a mass Omicron-fuelled outbreak...

    Ask Congress to Investigate COVID Origins and Government Response to Pandemic.

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  • #2
    bump this