Hong Kong reported 4,508 Covid-19 infections on Wednesday – the highest in almost three months. The infection figures exceeded 4,000 for the seventh day in a row, with 10 deaths also reported on Wednesday.

The recent surge has seen the city’s only operational isolation camp reach 60 per cent capacity, according to the Security Bureau, which manages the facility.

Government isolation facility at Penny’s Bay on Lantau. File photo: GovHK.

Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk told local media this week that, as of Monday, 5,280 people who tested positive for Covid-19 were staying at Penny’s Bay – a new high since June. More than 860 people were sent to the facility last Tuesday alone – also a record high daily intake in recent months.

‘VIP’ residents

Cheuk said the authorities have tried to accommodate patients’ needs as best as they can.

“Many of our colleagues here called the [residents] ‘VIPs.’ Why do we call them that? Because we know these [residents] contributed to the anti-epidemic effort in Hong Kong… We hope to make it as comfortable as we can for the VIPs during the isolation period, or at least not as insufferable,” Cheuk said.

Government isolation facility at Penny’s Bay on Lantau. File photo: GovHK.

The Civil Aid Service (CAS), which is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the facility, said it has adopted a “zone management” approach – having two to three workers in charge of a area of around 60 people.

“Given we have around 5,000 [residents] now, we’ve hired different staff to implement zone management, including house-keeping staff on non-civil servant contracts and retired members of disciplinary forces,” said CAS Chief Staff Officer Leung Kwun-hong.

Penny’s Bay isolation camp has around 9,000 units. Health authorities earlier scrapped home quarantine for patients infected with the Omicron variant in June, demanding them to be sent to an isolation facility or a hospital.

Quarantine for international arrivals

The Department of Health, meanwhile, stepped up quarantine regulations for international arrivals, introducing an “electronic Covid-19 Medical Surveillance System.” Inbound travellers can choose to register their Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) results onto the platform on a voluntary basis.

“Travellers arriving in Hong Kong on or after July 24 and staying in DQHs would receive an SMS inviting them to log in to the system with the link provided in the SMS and upload relevant information on a daily basis during quarantine, including personal contact information, RAT results, as well as their self-monitoring status (including body temperature records and other symptoms),” a press statement released on Wednesday evening wrote.

Currently, people who had stayed in Taiwan or other overseas places need to perform RATs and record the information on a paper form.

Also, on Tuesday, the number of designated quarantine hotel was increased to 68, providing around 26,200 rooms in total. The eighth cycle of the scheme runs from August 1 to October 31.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.