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HK posts over 50k Covid-19 cases for 3rd straight day; 188 deaths

04 March 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap

Hospitals remain crammed with high-risk patients such as the elderly (File Photo)

Hong Kong reported 52,523 new coronavirus cases Friday, the third consecutive day that the infection rate breached the 50,000-mark. This took the city’s total Covid-19 tally to 390,449 cases in the fifth wave alone.

As before, health authorities emphasized that the daily tally only covered results from PCR tests and not from rapid antigen tests (RATs) which most residents have been using since last week, when the government said these would also be considered as confirmed cases.

The death toll was at its highest, with 188 Covid-19 related cases reported, 136 of them happening within the past 24 hours.

Dr Albert Au of the Centre for Health Protection said at today’s press conference that the infection has not peaked yet as there is still widespread transmission in the community, so people still need to continue observing strict anti-epidemic measures.

He reiterated that the daily confirmed data being reported merely reflect results from PCR tests, and not from RATs, which could involve hundreds of thousands more cases.

“We can be certain the infection is very severe,” he said, adding that the government is sticking to its “identify, isolate and treat” policy in tackling the surge in cases.

Au also said an online platform that will be set up to gather data from people who test positive from RATs is still being fine-tuned to cope with the high volume of traffic that would surely come as soon as it becomes available.

According to guidelines issued on Feb 26, those who test positive on a RAT test should isolate at once. If they had two Covid-19 vaccine shots they can test themselves again using RAT on days 6 and 7, and if the result is negative they can end their isolation.

No government notification is necessary to complete the process of testing and isolation.

Once the platform is set up, patients will be asked to submit a copy of their Hong Kong ID cards as well as screen shots of their positive result from a RAT. They will be able to get a medical certificate once their data is uploaded into the system.

Au said one of the problems being addressed in setting up the reporting platform is to safeguard against privacy data violations.

Meanwhile, Dr Larry Lee of the Hospital Authority said that all except five of the 136 patients who passed away yesterday were elderly people, meaning they were aged 60 and above. They comprised 76 men and 60 women aged between 29 and 102.

Most or 97 of the patients did not have any vaccine dose, 17 had two doses, while 22 had a jab each.

Seventy-three of them came from care homes, including the 29-year-old man with disabilities who was admitted to hospital on Feb 23 after experiencing fever and shortness of breath. His condition deteriorated until he died yesterday.

Lee said 52 other deaths which occurred earlier were only just reported. They were made up of 33 males and 19 females aged 56 to 104 years old.

The newly reported fatalities raised Hong Kong’s death toll from Covid-19 to 1,401 in the fifth wave alone, the highest rate per capita in the world.

Hospitals will suspend all non-emergency services from next week, when the infection is expected to peak

Lee also said that to free more medical personnel for Covid duties, all government outpatient clinics will only dispense medicines and not provide treatment from next week. The service hours will also be cut to reduce the number of visitors.

At the hospitals, all non-emergency services will also be suspended, amid expert reports that the current wave of the pandemic will peak by next week.

At the same time, Lee denied rumors that there is a shortage of oxygen in public hospitals which are currently treating a total of 7,306 Covid patients.

"Our situation is we have some patients who are being cared in some areas without central supply so we have to provide oxygen for these patients in need with cylinder oxygen,” he said.

These patients are now being repositioned so they can get their oxygen supply directly from the hospital’s central supply, which has no problem at all, said Lee.

Among the patients receiving treatment at public hospitals, 54 are in critical condition, 37 of them unvaccinated. Another 85 patients are in serious condition, and 59 of them are unvaccinated.


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