Lam says ‘onslaught’ of COVID-19 cases has ‘overwhelmed’ Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said on Monday that record-high COVID-19 infection rates amid the global omicron wave have “overwhelmed” the city.
“The onslaught of the fifth wave of the epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong and overwhelmed the city’s capacity of handling,” Lam said, according to Reuters.
Her remarks come as COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong have surged in the first two weeks of February, from about 100 cases at the start of the month to over 1,300 by Sunday. The city set a record for cases on Saturday, Reuters reported.
“The situation is highly undesirable and the government feels worried and sorry about it,” Lam also said.
Data from the city’s Hospital Authority indicated that hospital beds were already at 90 percent capacity and isolation spaces also neared their capacity, the news service added.
Lam reiterated that China would help to address the “aggravating situation,” after a plan was announced for Beijing to assist Hong Kong with testing, treatment and quarantine amid the spiking cases.
“All support will be provided. Rapid tests and help building isolation facilities are things we agreed on,” Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary John Lee previously said of China’s expected assistance.
Lam said authorities would “spare no effort” to use the “dynamic zero” COVID-19 strategy in the city, an aggressive approach that has also been deployed in mainland China to stop infections and outbreaks as they occur.
However, she added “there are no plans for a lockdown at this stage.”
Experts have said Hong Kong could face as many as 28,000 daily infections by the end of next month, and that the city could see a daily death toll of 1,000 by June, if current trends continue.
So far, Hong Kong has reported 24,000 infections and over 200 deaths, notably less than other major cities around the world, Reuters noted.