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HK health officials warn of shortage in hospital beds amid surge in virus cases

31 March 2020

By The SUN

Isolation rooms in some public hospitals are said to have all been allocated to virus patients

Hong Kong health officials have warned that public hospitals are about to run out of isolation rooms as the daily infection rate in the city continues to surge.

Another 41 cases were reported on Monday, Mar 30, taking the overall tally to 682. The number of new cases has risen sharply since hundreds of residents have been returning from heavily infected places overseas.

Of the confirmed cases so far, 554 remain in isolation, while 124 patients have been discharged upon recovery.

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At their daily press briefing, health officials said 39 confirmed Covid-19 were waiting to be admitted to hospital as a result of the shortage.

The issue was raised in the wake of a report that a man who lives in a subdivided flat was taken to hospital two days after testing positive for the disease.

Dr Lau Ka-hin, the Hospital Authority’s chief manager in quality and standards, said the waiting time for confirmed patients depends on the number of patients admitted each day.
“For example, six were discharged today, but that’s still less than those admitted,” he said.

Lau said some hospitals are already filled to capacity, although on average, the occupancy rate is about 77 percent for all.

As back-up, the officials said about 400 ward beds are being converted into “second-tier isolation beds to help free up space in the coming days.
Lau said an infections disease committee under HA has determined that the second-tier rooms will be used by recovering patients who haven’t had fever for more than 48 hours, who had no symptoms or diarrhea and do not require oxygen support, and have shown improvements in blood tests.
 
Dr Chuang and Dr Lau at the daily press briefing
The number of new cases has been in the double digits even after the government imposed travel restrictions on Mar 25. Many of the new arrivals are students returning from overseas, or residents who had visited countries in Europe or the United States during the incubation period.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said that of the 41 new cases, 34 had travel history; 17 of them are students returning from overseas.

Sundan ang Kuwentong Dram Love

But Chuang there is also a number of the new cases which make contact tracing difficult, because the source could not be identified.

“This situation is worrying because there are cases where the source is not known,” she said.

She advised everyone to heed the government’s advice to maintain good personal hygiene and stay at home as much as possible.

For the first time in a week, only one case was linked to the so-called band cluster, where 68 people with links to four bars across Hong Kong have been found infected. The lone case today involved a student nurse who visited All Night Long in Tsim Sha Tsui.


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