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17,063 new Covid-19 cases posted, 88 additional deaths

26 February 2022

By The SUN


Officials announce a change in strategy, saying the worst is yet to come

Hong Kong’s daily Covid-19 tally eased slightly from Friday’s record of nearly 22,000 cases but still remained at critical levels, as health authorities adjusted discharge criteria at hospitals to make room for more seriously ill patients waiting to be admitted.

At today’s press conference, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said the infection numbers have yet to peak. Since the Omicron-led fifth wave began on Dec 31 last year, she said the number of cases has surged to more than 81,000, with the tally mounting each day.

Yesterday, a total of 17,063 confirmed cases were tallied, culled from positive test results submitted by public health laboratories, and for the first time, also those that came from private laboratories.


Equally worrying are the number of deaths reported daily, mostly involving elderly patients or those with chronic disease, but within the past few days, also included five children, aged 11 months to 9 years old.

Hospital Authority’s Dr Lau Ka-hin reported a total of 88 deaths which happened yesterday and from two days earlier that were not included in previous reports.

In the past 24 hours, 66 patients died, comprising 39 males and 27 females aged 19 to 101 years old. Between Feb 22 and 24, an additional 22 deaths were recorded, 15 males and 7 females.

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There are 40 other patients in critical condition, and 97 who are in a serious condition

Of today’s fatalities, 60% or 39 patients came from elderly care homes, and only eight of them had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. All those below 65 years old had serious ailments and needed to be put into care homes.

So far, a total of 607 fatalities have been recorded since the pandemic broke out more than two years ago, and 402 of them happened in the fifth wave.


Lau said the number of infected health care workers has risen to 2,322, putting additional strain on the already overworked hospital staff.

The outbreak in care homes has worsened as well, with 1,943 residents and more than 600 staff in 470 such facilities across Hong Kong now hit by the virus.

Chan said the government aims to keep its dynamic zero strategy, and hopes to put the infection under control in the next two to three months with help from the Central Government.

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But in the meantime, the government will adopt a risk-based strategy aimed at early detection and isolation.

Part of the strategy is to continue the lockdowns on high-risk buildings, where residents will be made to undergo a nucleic acid test. But thereafter, they will be given rapid antigen test (RAT) kits so they could continue their series of tests on their own.

Compulsory testing notices currently issued will be cancelled, and instead, RAT kits will be handed out to affected residents so they can do their own tests.

The same strategy requiring self-testing will be adopted for residents of buildings found with contaminated sewage, as well as high-risk workers, including those working in quarantine hotels and catering places.


Anyone who tests positive in a RAT will no longer be required to submit a deep-throat specimen or undergo a PCR test for the case to be confirmed. All that the patient has to do is to register the RAT result in an online platform that the government hopes to set up within the coming week.

Those self-isolating should take another RAT on the sixth or seventh day of isolation and if they test negative and they had at least two doses of a vaccine, they can get out of their house without a need to inform the Centre for Health Protection.

The shortened stay could also apply to patients staying in hospitals, in line with the new policy of freeing up more beds for infected people with more serious symptoms.

“If they consider the patient is relatively stable and ready for discharge, they will arrange for discharge based on different criteria – like the clinical conditions, the symptoms, investigations among many other things,” said HA director Tony Ko.

As was said in previous briefings, the patient’s living conditions will also be considered in determining if the patient could be sent home and spend the rest of the 14-day isolation period there.

The HA also said that eight more clinics that will examine Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms will open from Mar 1, raising the total number of these facilities to 17.

Of today’s confirmed cases, only six were imported while the remaining 17,000-odd other infections were locally acquired. But Chan said the reason the government decided to extend the flight ban on nine countries until Apr 20 is because any rise in imported cases would cause added burden to the city’s health services.

Fire Services chief appeals to patients not needing emergency care to stop calling for ambulance

Also among those who spoke at the meeting was Fire Services Director Joseph Leung, who repeated an appeal for people with mild to no symptoms to stop calling for an ambulance to take them to a hospital, as this could lead to delays in picking up patients who are seriously ill.

Previously it was reported that up to 30% of calls made for an ambulance pick-up involved people who had zero to mild symptoms.

Leung also said manpower supply is tight, as 268 fire services officers have tested positive and 400 have been classified as close contacts.

As of 4pm, he said there were 650 people waiting for ambulances, with the longest wait on record being more than 26 hours.

Also at the briefing was CHP controller Dr Edwin Tsui and Director of Health Dr Ronald Lam. 


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