Hong Kong asks for Beijing’s help as it records 2,000 preliminary cases in COVID-19 “crisis”

Hong Kong asks for Beijing’s help as it records 2,000 preliminary cases in COVID-19 “crisis”
People wearing face masks queue outside a community vaccination centre to receive a dose of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine, in Hong Kong, China February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

The backstory:

  • Hong Kong is aiming for a “dynamic zero infection” situation, which, according to state-backed media outlet Xinhua News Agency, does not mean trying to get to zero cases. Instead, it aims to identify new infections as early as possible so that the virus can be contained.
  • But despite the strategy, the city is now seeing its fifth wave and recording more cases than ever since the pandemic started over two years ago.
  • With that, the city has imposed its most stringent COVID-19 social distancing policies to date, with a vaccine pass being introduced on February 24 only allowing those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine into certain areas like shopping malls and wet markets.
  • Health experts from the University of Hong Kong also warned last week that the city could see 28,000 new cases a day by the end of March, with deaths rising to 1,000 by June.
  • The experts added that Hong Kong could only return to a “zero-covid” state if the entire city were locked down for around two to three months.
  • But, even though the city is seeing some of the harshest social distancing rules right now, activity tracking from Apple Inc. shows that, on average, activity has dropped 34% over the past week. This is compared to the early days of the pandemic in 2020, which saw a 63% decline in activity.

The development:

  • On Sunday, health authorities said that the city recorded 2,000 preliminary positive cases, labeling the spike a “crisis.”
  • The city reported 1,347 COVID-19 cases with over 3,400 patients receiving treatment but said that city officials were not considering a mainland-style lockdown right now.
  • The authorities added that, with cases exceeding the capacity of Hong Kong’s healthcare system and isolation facilities full, they will now shift their attention to the elderly and children who test positive.
  • Authorities also said that children from the age of 3 would be eligible for vaccinations, which follows the death of a 4-year-old girl who tested preliminarily positive for COVID-19 last week.
  • With that, the city has reached out to Beijing for help with several things, including building more isolation facilities and supplying more test kits, to which Beijing agreed.

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