A group of mainland Chinese experts have met with Hong Kong health officials to draft plans to use traditional Chinese medicine in Covid-19 clinical treatment as the city’s fifth-wave case fatality rate climbs.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan with the mainland traditional Chinese medicine expert delegation on April 5, 2022. Photo: HKGov.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan met with the experts sent by the central authorities on Tuesday. The group, which arrived in the city last Tuesday, is part of Beijing’s efforts to aid the city’s anti-epidemic efforts, according to a government statement.

Since their arrival, the delegation of seven traditional Chinese medicine experts has visited elderly care homes, Covid-19 treatment facilities and isolation centres, as well as a traditional Chinese medicine clinic.

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The number of deaths reported daily has dropped below 90 for the first time since February 26, although the case fatality rate, or the number of deaths among those infected, has risen to 0.7 per cent during the fifth wave. As of Tuesday, Hong Kong recorded a total of 8,349 deaths out of a total of 1.17 million infections, the vast majority of which occurred during the fifth wave.

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“This figure is similar to that in European countries or the US and the UK,” said Centre for Health Protection’s Albert Au. “Hong Kong[‘s rate] is not particularly high.”

Meanwhile mainland experts led by Tong Xiaolin will take from the mainland’s experience of using traditional Chinese medicine, coupled with the findings from their Hong Kong tour, to draft treatment guidelines for patients who are asymptomatic, have mild symptoms or are in isolation facilities or recovering.

The experts “prepared a set of [traditional Chinese medicine] anti-epidemic plans for clinical application on the basis of the existing clinical plans of Hong Kong,” a government spokesperson said.

Their plan will serve as a reference for traditional Chinese medicine practitioners as well as offer guidelines to the public.

The experts have “put forward the ‘three easy’ principles – ‘easy to understand’, ‘easy to do’ and ‘easy to get’. The HKSAR Government will follow up and implement the relevant recommendations,” Chan on Tuesday.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.