Chinese President leader Xi Jinping has called for Hong Kong to take “all necessary measures” to control an Omicron-fuelled Covid-19 outbreak, Beijing-affiliated newspapers in the city said on February 16, a day after leader Carrie Lam ruled out a mainland-style hard lockdown.

Hong Kong is currently in the throes of its worst-ever coronavirus outbreak, registering over a thousand confirmed cases a day as hospitals reach their breaking point.

Lam this week insisted a hard “wholesale” lockdown – which the mainland has imposed on various cities in order to stamp out cases – will not be imposed on Hong Kongers.

But Xi said Hong Kong needs “to prioritise stabilising and controlling the Covid situation above everything else”, according to local newspapers Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po – which answer to Beijing’s office in the city.