Hong Kong accelerates release of COVID-19 hospital patients

Hong Kong accelerates release of COVID-19 hospital patients
FILE PHOTO: A staff member wipes the floor at an empty food court after evening dine-in services were suspended to control coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in Hong Kong, China January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

The backstory:

  • Hong Kong has a zero-COVID-19 policy, with stringent coronavirus rules to try to ensure that no trace of COVID-19 gets into its borders and any sign of it is squashed.
  • These rules included keeping COVID-19 patients in the hospital for sometimes weeks to ensure they wouldn’t spread the virus into the community. This approach kept some people with no symptoms hospitalized for over a month.
  • But now, the region is seeing its fifth wave of COVID-19 and recording triple digits that some health officials have said, based on prior experience, will take two to three months to contain.

The development:

  • On Wednesday, there were a total of 116 new positive cases, with the number of infections from unknown sources increasing.
  • With this, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Communicable Disease Branch of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, has said that “the situation is getting worse” and the government is expected to add quarantine capacity to accommodate for this increase.
  • And, as the number of positive cases grows, more pressure is put on the region’s hospitals and the healthcare system. An average of 120 people have been hospitalized each day for the past week. With that, ​​Hong Kong has announced that it’s accelerating the release of COVID-19 patients from the hospital.
  • If they have two negative tests 24 hours apart or three tests that show they are no longer infectious (determined by a cycle threshold (CT) count), patients can leave and will be able to complete a 14-day self-isolation at home instead of in a government facility, said Hospital Authority Chief Manager Lau Ka-hin at a press briefing on Wednesday.

You drive the stories at TMS. DM us which headline you want us to explain, or email us.