A HEAVY POLICE presence has been deployed in Hong Kong to prevent an outbreak of a seasonal coronavirus variant.
The variant, only previously detected there and in Macao, appears to be a combination of US and UK variants with traces of a hitherto unclassified Taiwan variant. Were it to be recognised by the World Health Organisation, the variant might be designated as the B.18.104.22.168, although the WHO may wait until xi in its new Greek alphabet naming convention has been used.
Authorities have imposed extreme social distancing measures and closed down open spaces such as Victoria Park to prevent superspreader events. Some 7,000 police are reportedly on the streets on public health patrols. At least one prominent Hongkonger is now in police quarantine. More are likely to follow.
Residents are also being discouraged from using popular folk remedies such as shining mobile phone flashlights or using wax-based equivalent light sources.
The response has been more muscular than to a similar outbreak at this time last year, which failed to contain the contagion completely. New measures have since been adopted at Beijing’s insistence, drawing on its own success in suppressing such outbreaks.