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HK virus fight gets boost from mainland

By SHADOW LI in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-03-15 09:19
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The latest batch of the Chinese mainland medical staff arrive in Hong Kong, March 14, 2022, to support the local fight against the COVID-19 epidemic. The team includes 36 doctors and 39 nurses from 14 public hospitals in the neighboring Guangdong province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Hong Kong will welcome 375 medical personnel and 240 elderly care workers from the Chinese mainland this week as part of efforts to recalibrate its strained resources to reduce COVID-19 deaths, severe cases and infections.

A delegation of 75 medical workers from the mainland arrived in Hong Kong on Monday to help take care of COVID-19 patients, while another batch of 300 will arrive later this week, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said, adding many more will come in batches.

Meanwhile, 240 elderly care workers from the mainland are about to arrive to lend a helping hand as Hong Kong struggles to find more people-inside or outside the city-to take care of elderly COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.

Speaking at the daily pandemic news conference, Lam thanked the central government for its prompt response to the city's request for helping hands.

The city enacted an emergency law last month to waive registration and other legal requirements for mainland medical workers, caregivers and other anti-pandemic personnel providing services in times of crisis.

The 75-strong medical team from Guangdong province that arrived on Monday included 36 doctors and 39 nurses from 14 hospitals in four cities. With extensive experience in fighting the pandemic, they have mostly worked in departments closely related to the treatment of elderly patients.

Team member Chen Lifeng, a doctor from University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, is one of those who will be working side by side with Hong Kong peers at the AsiaWorld-Expo community treatment facility, which is mainly for senior COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who are in need of extra care.

Chen said doctors and nurses at his hospital have been involved in long-term cooperation with hospitals in Hong Kong, which is expected to help them quickly adapt to the new working environment in the city.

As of Monday, Hong Kong had recorded 4,279 COVID-19-related deaths.

A total of 26,908 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Monday, including 14,868 who tested positive using rapid antigen tests.

The chief executive of city's Hospital Authority, Tony Ko Patsing, said the involvement of mainland medical workers will greatly boost the capacity and quality of Hong Kong medical services for COVID-19 patients.

Ko said treatments for COVID-19 patients are similar to those on the mainland and a Mandarin input method has been added to the English-based medical system to make work more convenient for medical personnel from the mainland.

About 10,000 COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment at public medical facilities managed by the authority.

Ko also revealed that 11,000 medical beds, or half of the city's general medical beds at public hospitals, have been reserved for COVID-19 patients.

A lack of caregivers for the elderly has greatly affected the city's ability to triage COVID-19 patients.

About 120 mainland care workers are undergoing training or beginning to work.

Two isolation and holding centers have been established to take care of elderly people waiting for hospital admission or elderly patients referred with mild symptoms.

Two more centers are likely to be opened with the help of two private hospitals.

William Xu contributed to this story.

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