Covid ‘onslaught’ has overwhelmed Hong Kong’s capacity as cases surge, leader says | Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said an “onslaught” of Covid-19 infections has dealt a heavy blow and overwhelmed capacity to deal with the virus as daily cases surge to record highs.

Daily infections have multiplied 13 times over the past two weeks, from about 100 cases at the start of February to more than 1,300 on 13 February, with authorities scrambling to control the deepening outbreak.

Lam on Monday said her government would coordinate with Chinese officials to tackle the “aggravating situation” after China said it would help the city with testing, treatment and quarantine.

“The onslaught of the fifth wave of the epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong and overwhelmed the city’s capacity of handling,” she said, adding that the surge had lengthened the amount of time before infected patients could access isolation facilities.

“The situation is highly undesirable and the government feels worried and sorry about it.”

Her top officials would coordinate with the central government to enhance Hong Kong’s testing and isolation facilities, and secure resources from rapid antigen kits and protective gear to fresh vegetables, she said.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam says her government is ‘worried and sorry’ about the Covid outbreak. Photograph: EyePress News/REX/Shutterstock

The Chinese territory reported 1,347 new infections on Sunday, down from Saturday’s record, but the spread with 2,000 more suspected cases threatens its overstretched healthcare system, authorities said.

Medical experts warn the city could see 28,000 daily infections by the end of March, with the unvaccinated elderly a particular worry.

Hospital beds for Covid-19 patients in the global financial hub are already at 90% occupancy, data from the city’s Hospital Authority showed, while isolation facilities are also near full capacity.

Hong Kong is prioritising elderly, children and those in serious conditions in hospitals, said Larry Lee, chief manager at the city’s Hospital Authority.

Lam said authorities would “spare no effort” to implement the “dynamic zero” coronavirus infection strategy in Hong Kong, which, like mainland China, seeks to curb outbreaks as soon as they occur, in contrast with many other places that are trying to live with Covid.

Hong Kong has recorded about 24,000 infections and more than 200 deaths, less than other similar major cities.

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