The battle to contain the recent coronavirus outbreak on the mainland has escalated following a meeting of the Communist Party’s Politburo, with President Xi Jinping stressing the need to curb imported infections, reduce the impact on the economy and people’s lives, and strengthen supervision and accountability for those combating the pandemic. Separately, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has surprisingly revived a wage subsidy scheme costing HK$31 billion (US$4 billion). The moves are probably coincidental, but they underline an urgency for more effective measures on both sides of the border to bail the country out of its worst Covid-19 crisis in two years. The relaunch of a more targeted Employment Support Scheme is a timely step in that direction. Those who run small and medium enterprises may receive a monthly wage subsidy of up to HK$8,000 (US$1,000) per worker, benefiting 1.3 million people earning less than HK$30,000 a month. This time, businesses not too hit hard by the pandemic, such as supermarket chains and telecoms companies, are excluded. The tweaks appear to have struck a sensible balance between economic support and fiscal prudence. Along with a proposed one-off HK$10,000 allowance for those who have lost their jobs, the latest moves may, hopefully, provide some badly needed relief. Lam said the wage subsidies would give employers the confidence to soldier on and prepare for an economic rebound. Hong Kong is fortunate to have a robust war chest. However, there is more to fighting the coronavirus than just pumping in money. The previous wage scheme, measures in the past three government budgets and six rounds of pandemic funding have already cost HK$380 billion. There is no real hope of a quick recovery unless the virus is brought under control, and this rests squarely on Lam’s shoulders. Chinese officials point to Hong Kong ‘lesson’ to urge elderly to get jabs Pressure for more concrete results to be shown is mounting following Beijing’s unequivocal pledge to punish any dereliction of duty in the battle. A handful of officials in Shenzhen have already been removed as the neighbouring city partially eases restrictions following two rounds of compulsory testing. Beijing’s emphasis on supervision and accountability is not new. A month ago, Xi issued the Lam administration with an important directive to make fighting the pandemic an overriding priority. Even though his latest message probably refers to targeting the outbreak on the mainland, its essence also applies to Hong Kong. Infections and fatalities in the city have now hit 1 million and more than 5,000 respectively. It would be surprising if local officials are not feeling the heat. Lam yesterday only reiterated that her team had been fighting a hard campaign. What happens on the mainland should give her a stronger push.