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Mainland's aid will help HK contain virus: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2022-02-14 19:23
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Residents of Hung Lok House, Hung Fuk Estate in Yuen Long are being arranged for COVID-19 testing, Feb 11, 2022. [Photo/HKSAR Government]

The number of daily novel coronavirus infections in Hong Kong has soared from about 980 cases on Thursday to over 2,000 on Monday, with the authorities warning that the city could see 28,000 daily infections by the end of March.

With hospital beds for COVID-19 patients already at 90 percent occupancy and isolation facilities near full capacity, according to data from the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, the city's health facilities are at risk of being overloaded by the latest "onslaught" of the virus.

According to Jin Dongyan, a virus expert at the University of Hong Kong, this wave of infections is chiefly caused by the Omicron BA 2 variant of the virus, which can spread 1.5 to 2 times faster than the initial highly transmissible Omicron strain.

Such is the speed of transmission that the latest wave of the virus threatens to overwhelm the city's capacity to handle the caseload, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on the weekend.

In light of the "worrying" situation, the HKSAR government has turned to the central authorities for help.

A delegation from the HKSAR government, led by Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee, met with representatives of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, and national health experts, as well as officials of the local governments of Guangdong province and Shenzhen on Saturday to outline the assistance the city needed.

After the meeting in Shenzhen, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council announced that the central government and Guangdong provincial government would adopt "all necessary measures" to support the special administrative region to contain the spread of the virus and stabilize the situation.

Based on the specific epidemic prevention and control requirements of the SAR government, the central government and Guangdong provincial government are dispatching five expert teams to Hong Kong to help with testing and the operating of quarantine and treatment facilities, and providing rapid antigen test kits and anti-epidemic supplies for quarantine facilities, as well as masks and other protective gear.

Special arrangements are also being made to ensure the SAR has stable supplies of fresh vegetables and other foods and daily necessities, without risk of the virus spreading from Hong Kong.

One of the most visible support measures will be the "Fire-Eye" labs, in which nucleic acid tests are carried out in air-bag rooms, which are due to be put into use on Tuesday. These will be able to carry out 100,000 tests per day within two weeks, increasing the total testing capability of Hong Kong to 300,000 tests per day.

With the mainland's assistance to help address the "aggravating situation", Hong Kong residents can be confident that the SAR authorities will be able to "spare no effort" to use the dynamic zero COVID-19 strategy to stop infections and outbreaks as they occur and so bring the situation under control.

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