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HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s finance chief on Wednesday unveiled a costly HK$170 billion ($21.79 billion) budget, including tax breaks and consumer spending vouchers, as the city reels under its worst coronavirus outbreak to date.

While rival finance centres emerging from pandemic isolation and reopening to the world, Hong Kong has found itself overwhelmed by the highly infectious Omicron variant after the city’s previously successful zero-Covid strategy crumbled.

The surge has prompted the reimposition of painful curbs that have shuttered many businesses, closed schools, pushed authorities to order multiple rounds of mass testing and compounded the city’s international isolation

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