March 21, 2023


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Hong Kong is “overwhelmed” with Covid-19 cases reaching a record level

Hong Kong is "overwhelmed" with Covid-19 cases reaching a record level
  • More than 2,000 new infections on Monday, 4,500 initial injuries
  • Schools suspended until March 6th
  • Leader Carrie Lam says the city is overcrowded, and the hospitals are nearly full

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has “overwhelmed” Hong Kong, where daily cases have risen nearly 20 times over the past two weeks, leading to a shortage of hospital beds, the city’s leader said on Monday. Struggling to deal.

Carrie Lam, the head of administration in the Chinese-ruled city, issued a grim update for residents already under strict restrictions on social gatherings as health authorities reported 2,071 infections on Monday, with 4,500 separate initial positive cases.

“The onslaught of the fifth wave of the epidemic dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong and overwhelmed the city’s ability to handle it,” Lam said, adding that patients had to wait longer to reach isolation facilities.

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“The situation is very undesirable and the government is concerned and sorry about it,” she said.

With the number of cases rising, Lam said her administration will coordinate with Chinese officials to tackle the “aggravating situation.”

China said it would help the city with testing, treatment and quarantine, and secure resources from rapid antigen kits and protective equipment to fresh vegetables.

Despite the recent increase, deaths in the global financial center are still significantly lower than in cities of a similar size since the outbreak of the epidemic two years ago.

But with the health care system already depleted, medical experts warn the city could see 28,000 daily infections by the end of March, with unvaccinated seniors particularly concerned. Read more

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Data from the city’s Hospital Authority showed hospital beds for COVID-19 patients are already 90% occupied, while isolation facilities are close to full capacity. Read more

Larry Lee, senior director at the city’s Hospital Authority, said Hong Kong was prioritizing the elderly, children and those in critical conditions in hospitals.

On Monday, authorities said there were about 1,000 patients waiting for treatment at the hospital.

Kerb fracture

Despite the warning about the latest wave of the epidemic, the total number of cases in Hong Kong since the epidemic first broke out is about 24,000 infections, including more than 200 deaths, less than many other similar major cities.

Lam said authorities would “spare no effort” to implement a “dynamic zero” coronavirus infection strategy in Hong Kong, which, like mainland China, seeks to curb the outbreak as soon as it occurs, unlike many other places that are trying to survive. with COVID.

Within the city, residents are prohibited from public gatherings of more than two people while most places including schools, churches and gyms are closed. Dining in restaurants is prohibited from 6pm local time and most people work from home.

On Monday, the government announced that all schools would suspend face-to-face classes until March 6.

Strict restrictions on flights have turned Hong Kong into one of the world’s most isolated major cities with its borders effectively closed for nearly two years.

The city’s legislature is set to discuss injecting HK$27 billion ($3.46 billion) into an anti-epidemic fund to support businesses and individuals affected by the city’s strict social distancing measures, the government said in a statement.

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(1 dollar = 7.8006 Hong Kong dollars)

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Additional reporting by Annemarie Rowntree and Marius Zaharia. Editing by Jerry Doyle and Simon Cameron Moore

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.