China reported another 35 cases in Xian today. That's an improvement and hopeful sign that the outbreak can eventually be extinguished.
However the toll of the total lockdown measures is weighing on public perception. Videos on social media showed a bloodied eight-months pregnant woman waiting outside a hospital for two hours as her Covid-19 test had expired four hours too early. That resulted in a miscarriage. The post was viewed millions of times on social media before it was taken down. It was the second similar incident and officials ordered hospitals to open up green lanes for pregnant women and people with critical illness.
There are signs the outbreak is spreading from Xian to neighbouring Henan, where four cases were reported today of local transmission.
China also continues to be pinged heavily by the rest of the world with 50 imported cases reported today, including 19 in Shanghai. Those are all quarantined travelers but every case raises the chance of something leaking out of quarantine.
Hong Kong continues to scramble after unconnected cases appeared. A 6 pm curfew has been put in place everywhere with bars, gyms and nightclubs to close completely. Flights were also banned for two weeks from the US, Britain and the Philippines.
An official said there could be invisible transmission taking place after a case was found in someone with no contact with the cluster or travel history.
Gabriel Leung, Dean of the medicine faculty at the University of Hong Kong, said on RTHK on Wednesday morning that he estimated there were already five to 10 silent transmission links in the community. If that's the case, it could be nearly impossible to stop.
Is it only a matter of time before what's happening in Hong Kong and Xian happens throughout China? And if that's the case, how long can strict lockdowns be kept?
Omicron is a different animal from prior strains and with the world coming to China in less than a month and mass travel coming at the Lunar New Year, the challenge is enormous.