Hong Kong’s Covid-19 case count surpassed 1 million on Friday, as the city is battered by its fifth and worst wave of the coronavirus. The death toll exceeded 5,000 on Thursday.

medic medical doctor A&E emergency ER caritas covid covid-19 queue
Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong during the fifth-wave Covid-19 outbreak. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

On Friday, Hong Kong reported 20,082 new Covid-19 infections on Friday, of which 12,116 were from rapid tests.

According to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), the city has reported a total of 996,862 Covid-19 infections and 5,136 deaths as of Thursday.

Although Thursday’s daily case count was 21,650, a drop from the previous day’s 29,272 infections, Chuang Shuk-kwan, the head of the CHP’s Communicable Disease Branch, said during Thursday afternoon’s Covid-19 briefing that it was “difficult” to determine a trend yet.

Chuang said over the past week, the number of daily cases had gone “up and down” around 30,000 and authorities needed to observe the statistics for few more days before a conclusion could be draw.

Made with Flourish

“There are many transmission chains in the community. A lot of people have no symptoms, they are not aware [that they are infected]… therefore experts sometimes say it will take a long time [for cases to diminish],” Chuang said.

Earlier on Thursday, three microbiologists from the University of Hong Kong – including government expert advisory Yuen Kwok-yung – called for a shift towards mitigation measures and a “roadmap to resume normality” as they said the final stages of the fifth wave could last for a few months and still infect thousands every day.

70% of deaths aged over 80

As of Thursday, the city has lost 4,923 lives to its fifth-wave Covid-19 outbreak, most of whom were elderly and had not received a complete course of vaccinations, according to the CHP.

Made with Flourish

Hong Kong’s overall case fatality rate was 0.5 per cent, but the figure rose to 8.4 per cent among patients aged 80 or above, Chuang said. This cohort constituted 70 per cent of Hong Kong’s fifth-wave casualties.

Chuang also said only 11 per cent of those who died had received two or more doses of a Covid-19 jab.

elderly senior old people covid 19 vaccine vaccination
Photo: HK Gov.

A health expert previously told HKFP that poor vaccination coverage among older citizens was the main reason behind the city’s surging death figures. HKFP compared Hong Kong’s vaccination status among elderly age groups with other international cities and a significant discrepancy was observed.

According to the CHP’s latest vaccination data, only 36.8 per cent of whose aged 80 or above had received a second dose as of Thursday.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.