Hong Kong looks to property moguls for more space for COVID-19 patients

Hong Kong looks to property moguls for more space for COVID-19 patients
FILE PHOTO: A medical worker walks past a makeshift testing centre for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) following the outbreak, outside a shopping mall at Sha Tin district, in Hong Kong, China, February 7, 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, which started spiking after Lunar New Year celebrations.
  • With that, Hong Kong 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.
  • Another part of the city’s no COVID-19 strategy is that all infected people and their close contacts will be separated and isolated from everyone else in the community.
  • Health experts have warned 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 returning to a “zero-covid” state would only be possible if the entire city were locked down for around two to three months.

The development:

  • Confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 4,285 on Wednesday, 17 of which were critical.
  • On Wednesday, mainland China, pro-Beijing newspapers also reported that President Xi said, “Hong Kong’s government must take up the main responsibility to stabilize and control the pandemic as soon as possible as a mission that overrides everything, mobilize all available forces and resource and take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and health of Hong Kong’s citizens and the stability of Hong Kong’s society.” It was not specified where the media outlets got the information.
  • According to the Hong Kong government, there are a total of 80,000 hotel rooms, 11,500 of which are for quarantine for travelers. This will increase to 12,500 by the beginning of next month.
  • Now, because Hong Kong is separating confirmed cases and close contacts from everyone else, the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has asked property tycoons who are a part of The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA) on Wednesday to offer 10,000 additional hotel rooms for people who need to isolate after testing positive and have mild symptoms.
  • The association has agreed to see what they can do.
  • The city’s largest developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., which owns W Hong Kong, the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, said that it would “very much like to make its contribution” and is now assessing the properties within their portfolio.

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