Beijing has agreed to help Hong Kong build a field hospital, as the city prepares for the worst wave of coronavirus infections so far after recording over 100 infections per day for nearly a week.

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung on Monday said China had agreed to send personnel across the border to help erect a makeshift hospital adjacent to the airport at AsiaWorld-Expo. The facility, which can provide up to 2,000 beds, will be similar to the “Fangcang Hospital,” which was rapidly constructed to handle Covid-19 patients at the epicentre – Wuhan, China.

Matthew Cheung at a press conference on July 27, 2020. Photo: GovHK.

Cheung said the Chinese personnel will only be responsible for constructing hardware, and will not include any medical staff. He said China has experience building temporary hospitals with “marvellous speed” and Hong Kong has the country’s “solid backing.”

“The country is highly, highly concerned about Hong Kong… It will do its utmost to help Hong Kong to get out of this plight,” he said.

On Monday, Hong Kong saw another daily record high of 145 cases, which raised the city’s tally to 2,778 infections. The death toll climbed to 22, as two more coronavirus patients – an 88-year-old male patient and a 95-year-old female patient – passed away.

Tazihu Sports Centre in Wuhan turned into a “Fangcang Hospital.” Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In response to the surge in local infections, Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration announced the most stringent round of anti-epidemic measures yet. The new restrictions included banning dining at restaurants, making mask-wearing compulsory outdoors and tightening the public gathering limit to two people per group.

A spokesperson for China’s liaison office in Hong Kong on Sunday said central authorities would support the city in increasing its testing capabilities and helping local authorities to construct a “Fangcang Hospital.” As long as the SAR is in need, China will offer “great assistance” by providing medical supplies and facilities, they said.

The spokesperson also hit back against critics who questioned the professional standards of mainland medics as “rumours.” They also highlighted “ignorant” criticism of mainland medics’ English language-abilities and claims that Hongkongers’ DNA samples would be sent to China.

Photo: GovHK.

“There is a minority in Hong Kong who disregard the lives and safety of the majority of citizens, and make all kinds of strange statements, which is shocking and scornful,” they said.

“Obviously, these arguments are clearly politically motivated. In some people’s eyes, the lives and health of the general public do not matter. What matters is creating political divisions and protecting self-interest.”

Last week, pro-Beijing newspaper Hong Kong Commercial Daily cited sources as saying medical staff in Shanghai and other Chinese cities were preparing to cross the border to help battle the pandemic in Hong Kong.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.