Coronavirus: Actual Covid numbers in Hong Kong could reach 200,000 a day, HKU expert says, while saying risks of border reopening with mainland China are low.
Up to 200,000 people a day could be infected with Covid-19 in Hong Kong, according to a health expert who said the risks of resuming quarantine-free travel with mainland China were manageable compared to the enormous workload of the city.
Jin Dongyan, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), cited ongoing testing by the institution on Monday after the city’s chief secretary said earlier that land borders could be reopened as early as 8 January, with the continent lifting most of the pandemic curbs.
Jin said HKU was testing 10,000 city residents a day, estimating that around 150,000 to 200,000 Hong Kongers were catching Covid-19 each day – a number exceeding any potential infection imported from the mainland.
Hong Kong aims to reopen its border with mainland China on January 8
“After such a long time, Covid-19 has become endemic. When it comes to cases imported from the mainland, Hong Kong has a certain level of buffer. It is uncertain whether travelers from the mainland are causing an increase in cases,” he said. .
“The number of infections will not increase to a large extent… There will be risks, but low level that Hong Kong can afford.”
Jin said it would be beneficial for the mainland and Hong Kong if travelers between the two places were required to show negative PCR test results, as it would help intercept imported infections.
He added that arrivals to the mainland should receive three doses of the vaccine before traveling and that authorities should observe the situation for a week or more after the border reopens before relaxing the rules further.
Hong Kong minister voices concern as families move overseas after Covid restriction eased
Hong Kong reported 23,361 Covid-19 infections on Sunday, 326 of them imported, along with 62 related deaths. The city’s total tally stood at 2,648,994 cases and 11,869 deaths.
Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki said the same day that the government would set a quota on the number of travelers commuting between Hong Kong and the mainland in the initial phase and increase sea, land and air transport capacity for respond to the request.
Allen Shi Lop-tak, president of the Hong Kong Chinese Manufacturers Association, said on Monday that in the initial phase of reopening borders, priority should be given to people with urgent needs, followed by the business sector with a quota of about 5,000 to 6,000 for industry initially.
“Entrepreneurs have not returned to the continent for a long time. Many of them want to return before the Lunar New Year to check factories, issue double pay and hold meetings with employees,” he said.
Shi added that the quota could be increased to 20,000 and in stages to 50,000 or 100,000, but agreed that this should be done gradually.
Eating on the menu again for Hong Kong’s unvaccinated as restaurants get a boost
The news came as authorities announced last Friday that only infected nursing home residents with fewer than three doses of the vaccine would be sent to government-run detention centres.
Residents with severe symptoms may also be sent to the centers regardless of their vaccination status with the approval of medical staff.
Grace Li Fai, a member of the executive board of the Hong Kong Association of Services for the Elderly, endorsed the government’s decision, saying it was appropriate.
“The care home cases are different from those in March. Many of them are showing mild symptoms as the vaccination rate has increased from around 20% in March to over 80% now,” she said, referring to the city’s death spike. fifth wave of Covid last year.
Hong Kong is lifting the Covid brakes in a big way. Here are the essentials of the trip
She added that government support, such as antiviral drugs and telecommunications, should be given more effectively to smaller-scale nursing homes, as they lacked in-house nurses to carry out medical assessments.
But Li warned care homes were facing a severe labor shortage as many staff were infected, urging authorities to provide more subsidies for operations.
“Currently, not only the elderly are infected but also vaccinated staff. This has created huge pressure on care homes in terms of manpower,” she said.
Li added that while a number of nursing home staff had left to work for isolation centers, the others still had to deal with a large amount of administrative work, such as reporting to authorities and obtaining antiviral drugs. when residents were infected.
. real number Covid Hong Kong could reach by day