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Hong Kong to report record 1,510 COVID cases on Saturday

Randy Mancini 2 Feb 12
Pedestrians wearing face masks walk on a street in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak walk on a street at Causeway Bay district in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2022. REUTERS/Joyce Zhou

February 12, 2022

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong is expected to announce record daily COVID-19 cases on Saturday, broadcaster TVB reported, as the city struggles to contain an expanding outbreak despite enforcing its most stringent restrictions yet.

Hong Kong and mainland China are among few places in the world still aiming to suppress every COVID-19 outbreak instead of trying to live with the virus, but the Omicron variant has proven tough to keep under control in the global financial hub.

TVB, citing an unidentified source, said the city’s health authorities are expected to report 1,510 new infections later on Saturday, up from Friday’s 1,325.

Hong Kong’s chief secretary John Lee, Health Secretary Sophia Chan and Security Chief Chris Tang were in neighbouring Shenzhen on Saturday, where they were discussing support measures with Chinese officials.

The measures are expected to include the provision of millions of testing kits and assistance to build more quarantine facilities and potentially a makeshift hospital, as medical capacity becomes stretched all fronts.

Hospital beds for COVID-19 patients are already at 90% occupancy, while isolation facilities were also nearing their maximum, authorities said.

Hundreds of thousands of people have also been forced to test every day, including the elderly and children, queuing for hours in tightly packed lines outside overwhelmed testing centres and raising the risk of infection.

The number of infections is expected to reach tens of thousands a day in a matter of weeks, posing a major risk for the city’s elderly, many of whom are not vaccinated after Hong Kong managed to keep the virus at bay for much of the pandemic leading to a sense of complacency.

Some epidemiologists say only a full mainland-style lockdown for around two months could bring the infection count back to zero, but warn this would not be a definitive fix as Omicron could find its way back into the city again soon after.

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu, Jessie Pang and Marius Zaharia; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)