Hit hard by the resurgence of COVID-19, Hong Kong entered its first full year of an economic recession in the second quarter with no immediate relief in sight due to worsening health care and economic challenges.
Its already battered economy shrank 9% in Q2 after contracting by a revised 9.1% in Q1, according to preliminary data from the Census and Statistics Department. On a quarter-to-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, the economy shrank 0.1% in Q2.
The Q1 contraction was far worse than the negative 8.3% median forecast by a panel of economists. On the other hand, the Q1 GDP drop was the worst quarterly result since 1974.
Q2 was the fourth straight quarter of negative growth Hong Kong. It plunged into recession in Q2 2019, its first downturn in a decade, after months of anti-government and pro-democracy protests and the trade war against China launched by president Donald Trump.
The government said the glimmer of hope in the pervasive gloom this year is an apparent stabilization in Hong Kong's overall economic situation when it had gotten the COVID-19 outbreak largely under control.
The immediate economic future for Hong Kong, however, remains grim due to a resurgence of COVID-19. A warning issued Wednesday said Hong Kong's health care system is on the verge of a renewed COVID-19 outbreak that might lead to the collapse of the city's beleaguered hospital system if unchecked.
The dire warning of a health care collapse was made by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, who revealed a dismaying and dangerous upsurge in local infections, "many with yet unknown sources."
On Wednesday, Hong Kong reported 118 additional coronavirus cases, bringing total infections to 3,002, said the Department of Health in an official statement. It reported 2,884 cases Tuesday, including 106 new ones.
The unwanted COVID-19 resurgence means Hong is facing its worst outbreak, and "hopes for an imminent recovery have been dashed." Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said the city now faces "a bumpy road to recovery."
"Together with the recent recurrence of the local epidemic, [these factors] suggest that it may take longer than originally expected for the local economy to recover," said Chan.
The government agrees with Chan's prognosis but remained optimistic about a strong recovery later in the year.
"Locally, the recent surge in COVID-19 cases has clouded the near-term outlook for domestic economic activity," said a government statement. "Nonetheless, once the local epidemic is contained again and external environment continues to improve, the Hong Kong economy hopefully will gradually recover in the rest of the year."