Around 15 per cent of ambulance personnel under the Fire Services Department contracted Covid-19 in the first two months of Hong Kong’s fifth wave of the coronavirus.
In a Legislative Council (LegCo) document published on Tuesday, the Security Bureau said that around 500 tested positive for Covid-19 between January 1 and March 3. Just 10 ambulance personnel were infected throughout 2021.
The figures were provided in response to a question submitted by lawmaker Edward Leung ahead of a LegCo Finance Committee meeting.
Ambulance services were severely overstretched during the height of the fifth wave in early March, which saw the city record 70,000-odd daily cases. The Fire Services Department repeatedly urged the public not to call for an ambulance if they tested positive for Covid-19 and were not in need of urgent medical care.
The average ambulance arrival time for emergency calls in 2021 was 9.32 minutes, below the target response time of 12 minutes.
The Fire Services Department told HKFP that it did not currently have statistics for the average response time for 2022. In March, however, the department said some callers waited for several hours due to a lack of manpower.
On March 4, the proportion of ambulance emergency calls that arrived within the target response time fell to a record low of 21.4 per cent.
Hong Kong’s worst Covid-19 wave thus far has eased in recent weeks, with the daily caseload falling below 2,000 on Sunday for the first time in almost two months.
The city recorded 1,272 new infections on Wednesday and another 62 deaths.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said earlier that the government would begin to gradually loosen Covid-19 restrictions from April 21, with the first stage involving an extension of restaurant dine-in hours to 10 p.m. from 6 p.m. and the reopening of beauty salons and gyms. She said in a press conference on Wednesday that she would announce details of the relaxation on Thursday.