Hong Kong’s sixth quarantine centre built with mainland help for isolating mild Covid-19 patients has been completed as the city battled a devastating fifth wave of infections and the Hospital Authority warned it had only enough blood for three to four days as donors stay away.

Carrie Lam speaking at the handover ceremony at Tam Mei community isolation facility. Photo: Video screenshot, via RTHK.

The new isolation centre at Tam Mei in Yuen Long district was built by China State Construction International in three weeks and will provide 9,468 beds in 2,367 rooms.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam attended the handover ceremony on Thursday afternoon and said the six quarantine centres could in total provide almost 20,000 beds.

Lam said another 20,000 beds would become available after construction of two other isolation facilities in Penny’s Bay and Kai Tak was finished.

She said the scale and speed of construction had been “unprecedented” in the city. “[I] believe that is a pioneering move by the construction sector, and it will be a historical moment in Hong Kong’s battle against the pandemic.”

Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the isolation facility in Yuen Long. Photo: Video screenshot, via GovHK.

The Hong Kong government has been ramping up construction of isolation sites as medical and quarantine facilities have been overwhelmed by the latest outbreak led by the highly transmissible Omicron strain.

While the land was lent by local developers, the mainland has provided Hong Kong with building materials and other supplies.

Running out of blood

The Hospital Authority urged people to come forward to give blood as hospitals are running out of reserves.

The authority’s Chief Manager (Integrated Clinical Services), Larry Lee, said the city only had enough blood to support operations for three to four days.

Lee said at a daily Covid briefing that the fifth wave had “affected the citizen’s willingness to donate blood” and urged the public to “help whenever it is possible.” He did not elaborate, but the Red Cross earlier this month said people were staying home more, affecting donations.

On Thursday, the city reported 13,074 new Covid-19 infections and 201 deaths.

The Centre for Health Protection’s Albert Au said the daily case count has hovered between 12,000 to 14,000 in the past four to five days and it “seems a continuous decrease cannot be observed.”

“Everyone has to be very cautious, as [the virus] has kept on spreading in the community. If citizens let down their guard, there will likely be a rebound.”

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Peter Lee

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.