Hong Kong is experiencing one of the worst coronavirus pandemics in history, with residents dealing with an overwhelmed hospital system by increasing restrictions even as the rest of the country unlocks.
The nation is currently experiencing a COVID-19 hospital crisis. This is due to the highest COVID emergence in the world. Hospitals are overcrowded, and patients are struggling to receive the necessary treatment.
For months, the city's tight but beneficial "zero-Covid" policy successfully kept the virus at bay. However, when the highly infectious Omicron strain crossed Hong Kong's barriers, officials were taken off the edge, with severely under-vaccinated people and little protocols in place to handle a widespread pandemic.
The highly contagious Omicron variant was discovered in Hong Kong's surrounding neighbourhood in early December, far later than the rest of the world. Authorities acted quickly after coronavirus-positive local pet store rats were identified, restricting flights, barring meetings of more than two people, and carrying out a huge rat massacre.
However, these precautions had little impact on Omicron's spread.
The authorities are now trying to identify a location for a temporary mega-hospital while also requesting continental cooperation with testing capacity and the rapid building of quarantine infrastructure.
Hong Kong's strategy during a previous outbreak was to hospitalise all COVID-19 patients, even those with minimal symptoms. Patients were also queuing outside hospitals and clinics, potentially exposing themselves to the general public.
Hong Kong has continuously adopted the Chinese mainland's "Zero-COVID" policy. Communist China was successful in eliminating outbreaks thanks to broad lockdowns, intensive testing, and enhanced official supervision. Despite health experts' warnings that the barriers could not remain indefinitely, Hong Kong authorities followed the same zero-tolerance stance.
With 12,000 people waiting for beds, the government administration's recent move to encourage individuals with minimal symptoms to stay at home hasn't stopped the flow. Hong Kong has one of the lowest vaccine coverage rates among developed countries, and opponents claim that the government has done nothing to address the situation.
Carrie Lam's new knowledge and information came only two days after Chinese President Xi Jinping advised and recommended Hong Kong to take "all appropriate steps," clearly shutting out the possibility of adopting China's "zero-COVID" policy.
Officials are looking at utilising hotels that have long been vacated by tourists to the "Asia's World City" as isolation facilities. A new government proposal for cabs to transport COVID-positive patients to hospitals was also proposed, creating issues about the health dangers for senior drivers. "It's no longer just a public health choice," Grepin of the University of Hong Kong stated. "It's a strategic move as well."
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