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True infection figure expected when RAT results updated tomorrow

15 March 2022

By Daisy CL Mandap


RAT results which were not reported on time will all be tallied by Wednesday

Health authorities say they expect to have a better grasp of the extent of Covid-19 infection in Hong Kong when the delayed reporting of positive results from rapid antigen tests (RATs) are tallied in full tomorrow.

Dr Albert Au of the Centre for Health Protection made the statement as he reported a total of 25,765 confirmed Covid-19 cases today, Mar 15. Of the total tally, 11,556 cases came from PCR tests while the remaining 15,809 came from RAT.

Four imported cases were included in the day’s tally, while the rest were all locally acquired.


They took the total number of cases from the fifth wave to 748,919.

An additional 294 deaths were reported, bringing the total death toll from the Omicron-fueled surge in cases to 4,355. This took Hong Kong’s death rate to an all-time high of 0.58%.

CHP had given a reporting deadline of Mar 14 for all positive results in RATs conducted between Feb 26, when they were declared confirmed without further confirmation; and Mar 5, when a platform for uploading the results was set up.


From Mar. 6, all the confirmed RAT results have been added to the daily tally.

As those who made the cut-off date were given 24 hours to upload their HK ID cards and a photo of their positive test result, the reporting deadline will technically end on Tuesday.

“After midnight tonight, we will have an actual picture concerning the daily figure,” said Au. “We will announce the figure tomorrow.”


It remains unclear, however, how the additional figures will be reflected in Hong Kong’s overall infected figure.

And despite the attempt at keeping track of all of those who tested positive in the city, the true figure may never be known as those who used RATs are not legally compelled to report their infection to authorities.

A study conducted by the University of Hong Kong has put the actual infection figure as of Mar 14 at 3.58 million, and Au candidly admitted this was within the range of their expectations.


He said their projection is that the real figure is about three to four times the number actually recorded. So with about 750,000 confirmed cases so far, he said “the projection made by the HKU is reasonable.”

The final death toll from the fifth wave that the HKU study had estimated to be about 5,102 is also within range, given that the average daily tally for the past two weeks of just under 300.

According to the HKU study, about 4.48 million people, or 60.5% of Hong Kong’s 7.4 million people would have caught the coronavirus by the end of the fifth wave.

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But relief may soon be at hand, because the study predicted that the infection figures would drop considerably by the end of March, given the highly restrictive gathering restrictions currently in place.

By late April the daily caseload is forecast to fall below 1,000 and to below 100 by mid-May.

The improved projection is based in part to the arrival in Hong Kong of two Covid-19 antiviral drugs, Molnupiravir and Paxlovid, which when given to patients within five days of the onset of symptoms, are expected to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by 30 and 89 percent, respectively.

Paxlovid, the wonder drug that is said to be up to 89% effective 

The rise in the vaccination rate to about 90% is also expected to help curb the surge in cases.

According to Dr Lau Ka-hin of the Hospital Authority, 10,228 patients are being treated at public hospitals and the community treatment facility at AsiaWorld-Expo where a newly arrived medical team from the Mainland will help look after them.

Of these patients, 62 are in critical condition while 145 are in serious condition. However, Lau said 111 patients are in intensive care.


As of the latest tally, 905 patients had been discharged over a 24-hour period.

Lau said 228 people had died in the past 24 hours, comprising 131 males and 96 females. They ranged in age from 19 to 107 years old.

Consistent with what has been happening in the fifth wave, many of the deceased had lived in care homes (123) and a majority were not vaccinated. Those who did not have a single jab numbered 165 while 36 had one shot, 27 had two shots, and 2 had three shots.

The youngest patient who was 19, had leukemia. Eight other patients who were below 60 years old all had serious chronic diseases like heart and thyroid issues, hepatitis, tuberculosis, brain tumor, epilepsy, blocked arteries, diabetes and hypertension.

Lau reported an additional 56 people who died between Mar 8 and 13, comprising 37 males and 19 females. They were aged 26 to 107 years old.

He said the 26-year-old patient had severe mental disability and suffered from a variety of ailments, including a genetic renal failure and epilepsy

Lau also reported that the number of hospital staff who have tested positive for Covid-19 has risen to 15,766. However, 7,517 of them have already returned to work.

There have also been additional infections reported in care homes. Six of such facilities reported new cases yesterday, affecting 30 residents and 13 staff.

So far, 757 care homes for the elderly have been affected, amounting to about 90% of all such facilities in Hong Kong.

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