Hong Kong has seen a record daily surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19.
On February 14, the city reported 2,071 confirmed cases, 2,052 of which were locally transmitted. It is the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that new daily case numbers have surpassed 2,000 in Hong Kong.
New cases reported the following day totaled 1,619.
In the latest wave of COVID-19, the youngest to have died is a 3-year-old girl, while the oldest is a 100-year-old female patient.
The deaths have been followed closely on Twitter by @tripperhead, an account dedicated to offering Hong Kong COVID-19 updates.
Many of the city’s hospital isolation wards are at 90% capacity, as reported by BBC News.
A Hong Kong hospital overflowing with COVID-19 patients. Image via Weibo/@师永刚
It is understood that the current wave of infections could be due to extended family gatherings over the Lunar New Year.
On Saturday, February 12, the Hong Kong government’s Chief Secretary John Lee met with officials from the Chinese mainland to discuss how to deal with the current wave of infections.
A number of other measures have also been put in place. These include public gatherings restricted to no more than two people and the closure of many businesses and public areas.
A near deserted street in the usually bustling bar district of Lan Kwai Fong. Image via Twitter/@keithrichburg
In order to increase nucleic acid testing capacity, the city has re-opened the Ma On Shan Sports Center in Sha Tin, which was used for mass testing in the early phase of the pandemic.
The city has also extended its vaccination program, with children as young as three years old able to receive the Sinovac vaccine.
All of this deals a blow to hopes that quarantine-free travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland will return anytime soon.
Exemptions from compulsory quarantine arrangements for cross-border travelers arriving in Hong Kong currently only apply to certain categories of individuals, such as drivers of goods vehicles, government officials and others.
Vaccinated travelers from the Chinese mainland and Macao must for the most part undergo seven days of compulsory quarantine in a designated place, as well as seven days of self-monitoring.
Meanwhile, those who travel from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland face a minimum of 14 days centralized quarantine, even in the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen.
Hong Kong, along with the Chinese mainland, is still pursuing a ‘zero-COVID’ approach, focused on eliminating the virus rather than trying to ‘live with it.’
The policy involves mass testing, strict lockdown measures applied as and when necessary, as well as strict quarantine and testing arrangements for overseas arrivals.
[Cover image via Pixabay]