REUTERS.- The latest wave of COVID-19 infections has “overwhelmed” Hong Kong, the city’s leader said on Monday as daily cases surged by some 20 times over the past two weeks, leaving hospitals short of beds and struggling to cope.
Carrie Lam, the head of the administration in the Chinese ruled city, issued a grim update for residents already subjected to tight restrictions on social gatherings as health authorities reported a record 2,071 infections on Monday, with 4,500 separate preliminary positive cases.
“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,” Lam said, adding patients were having to wait longer to access isolation facilities.
“The situation is highly undesirable and the government feels worried and sorry about it,” she said.
As the caseload soared, Lam said her administration would coordinate with Chinese officials to tackle the “aggravating situation”.
China has said it would help the city with testing, treatment and quarantine, and secure resources from rapid antigen kits and protective gear to fresh vegetables.
Despite the latest surge, deaths in the global financial hub remain far less than in similar-sized cities since the pandemic erupted two years ago.
But, with the healthcare system already overstretched, 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 are already at 90% occupancy, data from the city’s Hospital Authority showed, while isolation facilities are near full capacity.
Hong Kong is prioritizing elderly, children, and those in serious conditions in hospitals, said Larry Lee, chief manager at the city’s Hospital Authority.
There are around 1,000 patients waiting to be hospitalized, authorities said on Monday, Feb. 14th.
The Yucatan Times
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