300,000 in Hong Kong isolate at home as COVID cases rise

HONG KONG — As many as 300,000 Hong Kong residents are isolating at home, the city leader said on Sunday, as authorities rushed to build...


HONG KONG — As many as 300,000 Hong Kong residents are isolating at home, the city leader said on Sunday, as authorities rushed to build mass quarantine centers and treatment facilities to house patients showing even the mildest symptoms of Covid-19.

Until recently, Hong Kong routinely sent close contacts of confirmed Covid cases to government-run quarantine camps. But as the Delta and Omicron variants have spread widely and hospitals have scrambled to accommodate nearly 700,000 reported cases this year in a city of 7.4 million people, the government was forced to adjust its strict policies. Over the past week, Hong Kong has recorded an average of 24,242 new cases per day, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins Universityand more than 270 deaths per day.

People with close exposure to infected people are now allowed to quarantine at home, provided that they do not share kitchens or toilets with other households. The government has also provisionally allowed people who test positive for the coronavirus to stay at home while waiting to be admitted to quarantine centers or hospitals. And the quarantine period has been shortened to one week for fully vaccinated people.

Once a world leader in the fight against the virus, Hong Kong has tried to keep its rules as strict as possible. Previously, close contacts and travelers entering Chinese territory had to self-isolate for 21 days, one of the longest quarantine periods in the world. On Thursday, Hong Kong’s security minister warned that people who tested positive in a rapid test can be prosecuted if they refuse government orders to enter a quarantine center. (The government still requires everyone who tests positive, including those with mild or no symptoms, to self-isolate in government-run hospitals or quarantine centers unless they are filled to capacity. full capacity.)

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said on Thursday the government, with the help of a Chinese construction company, would convert shipping containers into thousands of makeshift isolation cabins. Public housing and hotel rooms are also being requisitioned to add a total of 70,000 new beds to the city’s quarantine capacity.

This weekend, the government set up a new helpline to help meet the day-to-day needs of people isolated at home who cannot arrange deliveries of food or basic necessities themselves. A declaration encouraged quarantined residents to rely on family, friends and commercial food deliveries whenever possible so the hotline can be reserved for those with “real needs”.

This has proven difficult over the past few weeks, as courier services suspended home delivery despite unprecedented demand. Supermarkets and pharmacies have been emptied groceries and over-the-counter drugs as residents grappled with mixed messages about whether the city would be locked down.

Officials said they had started distributing care packages to residential homes consisting of traditional Chinese medicine, despite little evidence to prove the strategy is effective. They will soon add paracetamol and pulse oximeters to these packs, and have mobilized volunteers to deliver them to the elderly and people in isolation at home, they said.

“I must admit that due to the large number of people in this situation, we may not be able to reach everyone,” Ms. Lam, the city’s leader, told a conference. press on Sunday.

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Newsrust - US Top News: 300,000 in Hong Kong isolate at home as COVID cases rise
300,000 in Hong Kong isolate at home as COVID cases rise
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