Hong Kong has recorded 1,161 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, as the city battles to contain the fifth-wave outbreak. Eight of the new cases were imported, with authorities reporting about 800 preliminary positive cases.

The Chief Manager (Integrated Clinical Services) of the Hospital Authority Larry Lee also announced the deaths of two patients during Wednesday’s daily Covid-19 briefing. Both were in their 70s and died at the Caritas Medical Centre in Cheung Sha Wan. One of the patients had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac last September.

Tai Po Lockdown and testing Covid-19
File photo: GovHK.

Lee urged citizens to get vaccinated, saying that two patients were in a critical condition, and three were in a serious condition. Two of the five were not vaccinated.

“You might notice that a lot of these deaths, or the cases in critical or serious conditions, they were not vaccinated or they did not receive a booster shot,” Lee said. “I hereby urge citizens who are not vaccinated to receive jabs, and those who are fully vaccinated to receive a booster shot, especially the elderly.”

Government figures show that 72.8 per cent of Hong Kong’s adult population have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccinations available – the German-made BioNTech or China’s Sinovac. However, only 23.15 per cent of those aged 80 and above, who are among the most vulnerable to the disease, are fully vaccinated. 

Covid-19 infections were reported among residents of four elderly care homes. A total of 10 homes for the elderly and disabled persons have been subject to compulsory quarantine to date.

A&E ‘severely overloaded’

Lee also told people with mild respiratory symptoms to not go visit emergency rooms as Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments at the city’s public hospitals have been “severely overloaded,” affecting other emergency services.

“Medical workers in public hospitals are now trying their best to take care of thousands of Covid-19 patients, I urge citizens to cooperate with the arrangements of the Department of Health and Hospital Authority at this critical moment,” Lee said.

queue for a Covid-19 test in Lei Tung, Sha Tin, on February 5, 2022
A queue for a Covid-19 test in Lei Tung, Sha Tin, on February 5, 2022. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

A&E departments have seen lengthy queues in recent days as people who tested positive using rapid antigen tests at home sought confirmation or treatment at hospitals. Speaking on an RTHK show on Tuesday, Tony Ling of the Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association said that “the separation of Covid and other patients at emergency rooms is starting to get blurry.”

“If a Covid patient arrives, there is definitely a chance that he or she will mix with other patients for a short time. A&E staff will try our best to shorten that time, but we can’t make any promises if the outbreak goes on like this,” he added.

Fifth wave

A City University of Hong Kong study earlier projected that 250,000 people in the city could be infected with Covid-19 during the current fifth wave.

On Tuesday, the government announced the tightening of social distancing measures. New restrictions included the ban on multi-household gatherings on private premises and the closing down of hair salons from Thursday until the implementation of the Covid-19 “vaccine pass” on February 24.

Hong Kong has recorded a total of 17,808 infections and 215 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.