Covid hasn't peaked yet, says HK leader

Covid hasn't peaked yet, says HK leader

Food supplies improving after days of panic buying but territory is still struggling

Workers move a body to a refrigerated container outside a funeral home on Thursday, as mortuaries have run out of space in Hong Kong because of the high number of Covid-19 deaths. (Reuters Photo)
Workers move a body to a refrigerated container outside a funeral home on Thursday, as mortuaries have run out of space in Hong Kong because of the high number of Covid-19 deaths. (Reuters Photo)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Saturday that the city’s Covid-19 outbreak wasn’t yet past its peak despite recent daily case numbers showing a slight levelling off.

“At this moment, we could not comfortably say that we have passed the peak,” Lam told reporters.

“We would like to see case numbers come down to the extent that we can say the fifth wave has ended, but we cannot set a specific number.”

Health authorities reported 29,381 new infections on Friday, compared with 31,402 new cases on Thursday and more than 50,000 a week earlier.

Lam added that fresh food supplies from mainland China had largely been restored to previous levels, after panic buying by the public in recent weeks had seen some supermarket shelves emptied on a daily basis.

In total since early 2020, the global financial hub has recorded almost 650,000 Covid-19 infections and about 3,500 deaths — most of them in just the past two weeks.

Hong Kong, like mainland China, has adopted a “dynamic zero” strategy that seeks to curb infections with strict mitigation measures, even as most other major centres learn to live with the virus.

But the approach of China and Hong Kong has been severely tested by the fast spreading Omicron variant. On the mainland China more than 1,500 new local infections were reported on Saturday — the most since the initial nationwide outbreak at the start of 2020.

Hong Kong registered the most deaths per million people globally in the week to March 9, according to Our World in Data. Most have been unvaccinated senior citizens.

A senior Chinese official overseeing Hong Kong affairs, Xia Baolong, who has been helping coordinate China’s response to aid Hong Kong in trying to contain the outbreak, was quoted by the China News Agency as saying the city’s Covid-19 situation was still severe and that people needed to adequately prepare themselves mentally for this “long-term war”.

He added that the government needed to do carry out its anti-epidemic work in a precise manner like “acupuncture” and to strengthen inter-departmental coordination.

Responding to the remarks, Lam said, “I can assure him … that we are putting in every effort to fight this epidemic,” while dismissing the view that the Hong Kong government wasn’t working effectively and in unison to battle the outbreak.


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