Firmly sticking to the "zero-infection" goal and refraining from blowing hot and cold
The SAR government has recently tightened anti-epidemic measures. The move wins people's hearts and accords with Hong Kong's reality. Yet the measures also arouse some backlashes. Some critics maintain that the price is too heavy for Hong Kong to stick to the "zero infection-case" goal since Western countries now resort to "coexistence with the virus" one after another. In fact, it is normal for people to have different views about anti-epidemic strategies out of their own interests. But for the SAR government, what is the most important is to act in Hong Kong's overall interests, remain focused to resolutely carry out its established anti-epidemic strategy, and refrain from blowing hot and cold.
Reopening the border with the Mainland is the main-stream public opinion. To attain this goal, Hong Kong must match up with the Mainland in anti-epidemic thinking and mechanisms. After the first meeting of specialists from the two places, Hong Kong has moved faster to matching up, taking moves such as tightening the criteria for infected patients to be discharged from hospital, increasing the frequency of testing for high-rick groups, keeping expanding the scope of compulsory use of the LeaveHomeSafe mobile application, reducing the number of groups qualifying for quarantine exemption, and preparing to launch a Hong Kong-version health code, etc. Recently because of several imported cases were found among quarantine-exempt pilots, the SAR government has accordingly tightened home quarantine requirement for pilots. Implementation of such measures strengthens Hong Kong's defence line against the virus, which is fully appreciated by various sectors. Nowadays Hong Kong society becomes somewhat optimistic about possibly soon border reopening, which also reflects the effectiveness of the anti-epidemic measures.
There is no denying that not everyone agrees and supports the SAR government's anti-epidemic strategy. Some personage from the business sector once suggested Hong Kong to open its doors to foreign countries first because Hong Kong as an international metropolis could not "close its doors and seal off its ports" for a long period of time. This in essence is to give up the "zero-case" policy and following the example of Western countries to resort to "coexistence with the virus". Recently a responsible figure of a certain foreign chamber of commerce even announced her resignation as she could not accept the 21-day compulsory quarantine in a hotel upon arrival in Hong Kong, which also produced some repercussions in society.
There is no perfect anti-epidemic policy in this world. Any anti-epidemic strategy has a price to pay. The crux of the matter lies in the benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR). After two years of fighting the virus globally, there now basically appear two separate approaches. Having yielded to various kinds of pressures, Western countries are unable to take the "zero infection" approach. They now call their strategy by the glorified name of "coexistence with the virus", which in fact is just meant to goof off without caring about human lives. As a result, the epidemic rebounds in these countries with death tolls increasing. In the United States, there are more than 40 million confirmed cases by now with 760,000 deaths. The death rate in the United Kingdom is even higher than that in the U.S. Some Asian countries such as Singapore have also joined the ranks of "coexistence with the virus". But this has just caused chaos and brought even more damages before any benefit could be seen, putting these countries in a dilemma. Their lesson is worth pondering by Hong Kong society.
In sharp contrast to this, the Mainland of our country continues to put protection of people's lives and health above everything else and unswervingly carry out its "dynamic zero-infection" policy. This highlights the solidarity of its 1.4 billion people and the advantages of its system. It has paid a certain price, but gained much more benefits. A best proof is the Mainland's economy, which was the first in the world to recover and has since maintained a good momentum.
On one side there is "coexistence with the virus" while on the other "dynamic zero infection". It is easy to tell which is more advantageous and better. Hong Kong must keep up with the Mainland in fighting the virus, which is the most responsible approach. Not to mention that, with the Central Government's powerful backing, Hong Kong is well qualified to carry on the "zero infection" policy. As long as Hong Kong takes the correct approach, when conditions are ripe for reopening the border with the Mainland, it could well be integrated into its internal circulation of economic growth. This will not only satisfy Hong Kong citizens' emotional aspiration for travelling to visit their hometowns and relatives but also speed up the SAR's economic recovery. This is in the fundamental interests of Hong Kong.
When a correct path is identified, one must march forward unswervingly. Any hesitation, over-cautiousness or indecisiveness will only waste all the efforts already made with nothing accomplished. For Hong Kong to achieve its long-term goals and serve its fundamental interests, it is worthwhile to make certain sacrifice for the time being.
18 November 2021