- Hong Kong’s chief secretary, the health minister and the security chief will meet with Chinese officials in neighboring Shenzhen on Saturday to discuss relief measures.
- The number of new daily infections rose to at least 1,325 on Friday, health authorities say.
- “Our health care system is overloaded, it’s really beyond capacity,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, a senior health official.
HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported a record number of new daily COVID-19 infections on Friday and China said it would fully support the city with its ‘dynamic zero’ coronavirus strategy as local authorities struggle to contain a deepening outbreak to get.
Hong Kong’s chief secretary John Lee, health minister Sophia Chan and security chief Chris Tang will meet with Chinese officials in neighboring Shenzhen on Saturday to discuss relief measures, the government said in a statement.
The meeting comes as Hong Kong’s pursuit of zero COVID infections has nearly stretched hospital and quarantine facilities to their limits, raising the near-term prospect of changes to admission and isolation policies.
The number of new daily infections rose to at least 1,325 on Friday, health authorities said.
“Our health care system is overloaded, it’s really beyond capacity,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, a senior health official.
She said there were at least 1,500 preliminary positive cases individually.
Hospital beds for COVID-19 patients in the global financial center are already 90% occupied, data from the city’s hospital authority shows, while isolation facilities have also reached their peak.
China’s central government is “deeply concerned” about the safety and health of residents, as well as people’s economy and livelihoods, said a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) – which is under China’s State Council of the Chinese cabinet falls. rack.
It said it would help support Hong Kong’s fight against the disease.
“As long as Hong Kong asks for it, the motherland will certainly respond … Hand in hand, we will certainly be able to overcome the epidemic quickly,” it said.
The Chinese government will help improve Hong Kong’s testing capacity and set up a new quarantine facility, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a Beijing-based source.
Beijing is also preparing to send thousands of medical and laboratory workers and millions of test kits to Hong Kong, increasing daily coronavirus screening capacity from 100,000 tests to 300,000 tests.
Hong Kong has seen a tenfold increase in cases since Feb. 1, and medical experts warn that the city could see 28,000 daily infections by the end of March, particularly the unvaccinated elderly.
Five elderly people infected with COVID-19 died this week, after there had been no COVID-related fatalities since September last year. In total, the city has registered about 20,000 infections and 218 deaths, still far fewer than other comparable major cities.
Despite only a handful of COVID-19 patients being in critical condition, some hospitals are already full, usually with people who have no more than a sore throat.
Medical experts are also concerned about an expected increase in infections that could dramatically increase serious infections, especially among the largely unvaccinated elderly.
Hundreds of thousands of people are forced to test every day, including the elderly and children, who queue for hours in tightly packed lines outside testing centers and increase the risk of infection.
Following the lead of mainland China, Hong Kong is trying to curb outbreaks as quickly as possible, unlike many other places that are trying to “live with COVID”, relying on high vaccination rates to provide protection while easing restrictions.
The city’s severe restrictions have made it one of the world’s most isolated major cities. With flights falling 90% and hardly anyone allowed to transit, Hong Kong on Friday extended a ban on flights from eight countries, including the United States and Britain, and added Nepal to the list.
The HKMAO said it also coordinated with the Guangdong provincial government to ensure the delivery of vegetables, fresh food and other necessities to Hong Kong.
The former British colony saw a run on vegetables this week after several cross-border truck drivers, bringing in goods from the mainland, tested positive for coronavirus.
China helped the city with a massive coronavirus testing schedule earlier in 2020 when it sent 600 people to operate lab facilities and tested nearly 2 million of the city’s 7.5 million residents.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said this week she was very sorry and concerned about the long waits for residents to be tested or enter isolation facilities.