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Hong Kong facing hospital crisis amid worst Covid outbreak

Hong Kong is experiencing its worst Covid-19 outbreak in history, leaving residents with an overburdened healthcare system and increasing restrictions while the rest of the world opens up. Although the

Hong Kong is experiencing its worst Covid-19 outbreak in history, leaving residents with an overburdened healthcare system and increasing restrictions while the rest of the world opens up.

Although the city’s “zero-Covid” policy is strict it helped keep the virus at bay for months.

When the highly transmissible Omicron form broke through Hong Kong’s defences, officials were caught off guard, with a population that was severely under-vaccinated and few strategies in place to deal with a widespread epidemic.

Also Read: Children in England with rare life-threatening illness to get world’s most expensive drug

The highly contagious Omicron strain was discovered in Hong Kong’s local community in late December, much later than the rest of the world.

Authorities immediately banned flights and put some restrictions in place. These precautions, however, had little impact on Omicron’s spread.

In less than two months, Hong Kong had registered nearly 20,200 illnesses as of Friday, exceeding its two-year total of around 12,000 illnesses.

The administration is now looking for a location for a temporary mega-hospital, as well as mainland assistance with testing capacity and quarantine facility construction.

Hong Kong’s protocol during previous epidemics was to hospitalise all Covid-19 patients, even those with minor symptoms.

When the medical staff was overburdened and ran out of isolation space, bleak photos emerged this week showing an overburdened medical staff transporting elderly patients on gurneys outside in freezing conditions.

Patients who were concerned waited in long lines outside hospitals, possibly exposing themselves to the general public.

According to Professor Benjamin Cowling, Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, authorities need a fresh approach as the numbers continue to rise.

First Published: 20th February, 2022 12:59 IST

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