Omicron has breached Hong Kong’s defenses. The semiautonomous territory, which until January had logged less than 13,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, is now discovering 6,000 a day. Given that vaccination rates are very low among the vulnerable elderly, a surge of deaths seems likely to be only a matter of time.
Economists had begun marking down their growth expectations for 2022 even before the true severity of the outbreak became apparent. Fitch cut its Hong Kong growth estimate in half to 1.5% on Feb. 9. Natixis now expects zero growth in retail sales, down from 8.1% in 2021, assuming current social-distancing restrictions stick around and aren’t tightened further—which they probably will be.