The new Covid-19 facility at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal will cater to elderly people with mild symptoms, authorities have said, alleviating the pressure on public hospitals collapsing under the weight of Hong Kong’s growing outbreak.
The centre – built with the help of mainland anti-epidemic teams – provides 1,200 bed spaces.
Speaking to reporters at the facility on Friday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said that while many elderly infected with Covid-19 fall seriously ill and need to be hospitalised, there are some milder cases.
Transferring elderly patients who do not need urgent care to the Kai Tak facility, Law said, would provide much-needed relief for the city’s medical systems.
“This can lighten the pressure that hospitals are under so that they can focus on treating elderly who are higher risk and are more ill.”
Authorities did not say when the centre would begin admitting patients.
The cruise terminal, which has been labelled a pricey “white elephant” project, sits on the former site of the Kai Tak Airport. Since its opening in 2013, the HK$8.2 terminal has been repeatedly criticised for being underused and not attracting enough visitors.
Elderly homes overwhelmed
The Kai Tak facility will also act as a holding centre for senior citizens who are waiting to return to their elderly care homes, which have emerged as hotspots during the fifth wave.
The Centre for Health Protection’s Albert Au said in a press conference on Friday that at least 755 care homes for the elderly and disabled have recorded Covid-19 cases.
Medics at public hospitals have said that some elderly patients who have recovered have been unable to go back to their care homes due to ongoing outbreaks there.
Law said the new centre can also reduce the burden on these elderly care facilities.
The Kai Tak centre is the third such facility for senior citizens with mild coronavirus cases. Shek Kip Mei Park Sports Centre in Sham Shui Po and Choi Wing Road Sports Centre in Kwun Tong were set up last month to take in elderly in good health.