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Hong Kong leader Lam says city not yet past COVID peak

Randy Mancini 4 Mar 12
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a news conference, in Hong Kong
FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks during a news conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, China March 9, 2022. Peter Parks/Pool via REUTERS

March 12, 2022

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong reported 27,647 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with city leader Carrie Lam saying the outbreak was not yet past its peak despite recent daily case numbers slightly levelling off.

Health authorities reported 27,647 new positive cases in Hong Kong on Saturday, versus 29,381 new infections on Friday and 31,402 new cases on Thursday. 198 new deaths were also reported in the past 24 hours.

“At this moment, we could not comfortably say that we have passed the peak,” Lam told reporters.

Lam added that fresh food supplies from mainland China had largely been restored to previous levels, after panic buying in recent weeks had seen some supermarket shelves emptied.

The global financial hub has recorded almost 650,000 COVID-19 infections and about 3,500 deaths in total since early 2020, with most of them in the past two weeks.

Hong Kong, like mainland China, has adopted a “dynamic zero” strategy that seeks to curb infections with strict mitigation measures, even as most other major cities learn to live with the virus. China and Hong Kong’s approach has been severely tested by the fast spreading Omicron variant.

Hong Kong registered the most deaths per million people globally in the week to March 9, according to data publication Our World in Data. Most have been unvaccinated senior citizens.

A senior Chinese official overseeing Hong Kong affairs, Xia Baolong, who has been helping coordinate Beijing’s response to help Hong Kong contain the outbreak, was cited by the China News Agency as saying the situation was still severe and told residents to prepare mentally for a “long-term war”.

He added that the government needed to work in a precise manner and to strengthen inter-departmental coordination.

Responding to the remarks, Lam said “I can assure him … that we are putting in every effort to fight this epidemic,” while dismissing the view that the Hong Kong government was not working effectively and in unison to battle the outbreak.

(Reporting by James Pomfret and Hong Kong Bureau; Editing by Michael Perry and Alexander Smith)