"But how can you live and have no story to tell?" Fyodor Dostoevsky
"Covid isn't aware of the law and will go about business like the 'Blind Watch Maker' of Richard Dawkins fame."
The problem with Omicron is that it didn't get the memo about a zero covid policy. That's the thing about nature; it cares nothing for feelings, policy changes, our well-being, or the future of the human species except as dictated by the cold hand of Darwinism.
I make this point because sometime soon, the zero covid approaches will falter under the weight of the Omicron virus.
Virologists have long known that successful viruses aim to replicate by high transmission and a low death rate — killing the host before the virus can move on isn't ideal. This evolution usually means mild symptoms or imperceptible infections. That sounds a lot like Omicron.
So, as a lacklustre Chinese New Year comes to a close, Covid-19 cases are surging with clusters attributed to vertical transmission in some instances, while un-traceable cases are popping up across the city.
But let's not get carried away. By international standards, the number of cases here remains low, and it is months since we've had anyone die. Today, the suspected cases numbered some 351.
Yet this is not good enough under the zero covid policy or rather the 'dynamic zero covid' — which means you expect outbreaks but suppress them. Fair enough.
I suppose part of the government's worry is that the testing of sewage samples points towards many more cases in the community than indicated by the data. (Yes, we test the sewage at various places to measure what is happening.)
What to do? Beyond a whole city lock-down — which isn't welcome — the government has few options. They've stepped up testing and are about to dispatch self-testing kits to everyone. With my 'Red Team' hat on, I'm wondering what the false positive rate will be - that should kick off further community-wide convulsions.
Sure, more testing may give a better idea of the number of infections out there, but what next? Am I right to think this approach is akin to the community chasing its tail? Sure, you can grab it. Then?
The thing is though, unless vaccinations rates can reach a higher level, we face a repeat of this cycle. And as I've highlighted, it is vaccinations in the older folks that is the issue.
Meanwhile, the Chinese New Year soothsayers have had a field day predicting the events to come. By consensus, Carrie Lam will get another term as chief executive, although I didn't need a dodgy almanac to see that. Next month, the election is due, and the paddock is empty of runners, except a lame contender of dubious standing.
Plus, I sense a bounce in Aunty Carrie's demeanour. She stressed a keenness to share her emotions with us, hence no mask at press conferences. That came as a surprise — Carrie has feelings?
The other laugh came from a local politician. He opined that criticisms of the Covid-19 policy might constitute a crime under the National Security Law. Oh, dear! The government felt compelled (rightly) to rebuke those observations with an urgent statement.
This spat brings me full circle because Covid-19 isn't aware of the law and will go about business like the 'Blind Watch Maker' of Richard Dawkins fame.
Remember, we owe a massive debt to Galileo, and others, for freeing us from the belief in an Earth-centred (let alone God-centred) system. On the shoulders of these scientists, we've learnt our proper place to make significant advances. After all, it is open discussion, not the conceit of dogma, that will defeat Covid-19 as swamp of ignorance retreats.
On a more down to earth matter, I wonder if the message about general hygiene is getting through. It is lovely to see so many citizens rediscovering Hong Kong's wonderful countryside, striding the hills and getting exercise. But taking a dump on every side trail and then jettisoning wet wipes into the trees is not pleasant. Neither is decorating the country park with discarded masks and other debris.
How about hammering home that message with some emotion.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.