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

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

HONG KONG – More than 300,000 Hong Kong residents are isolating at home, the city’s leader said on Sunday, as authorities build mass quarantine centers and quarantine for patients with even the mildest Covid-19 symptoms. Build treatment facilities.

Until recently, Hong Kong regularly sent close contacts of confirmed COVID cases to government-run quarantine camps. But as the Delta and Omicron variants spread widely, and hospitals pressured to accommodate the nearly 700,000 reported cases in the city of 7.4 million this year, the government was forced to adjust its stricter policies. fell. According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, an average of 24,242 new cases are being reported daily in Hong Kong.

People who came in close contact with infected people are now allowed to self-quarantine at home, provided they do not share kitchens or restrooms with other households. Temporarily, the government has also allowed people who have tested positive for coronavirus to stay home as they wait to be admitted to quarantine centers or hospitals. And the quarantine period has been shortened to a week for a thorough vaccination.

Once a world leader in keeping the virus at bay, Hong Kong has tried to keep its rules as strict as possible. Previously, close contacts and travelers entering Chinese territory had to isolate for 21 days, one of the longest quarantine periods in the world. On Thursday, Hong Kong’s security minister warned that people who test positive in a rapid test could be prosecuted if they refused government orders to enter a quarantine centre. (The government still requires all people who test positive, including those with mild or no symptoms, to isolate in hospitals or government-run quarantine centers until they are filled to capacity Don’t be.)

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Thursday that the government, with help from a Chinese construction firm, would convert shipping containers into thousands of makeshift cabins for isolation. Public accommodation and hotel rooms are also being sought to add a total of 70,000 new beds to the city’s quarantine capacity.

Later this week, the government launched a new hotline to help meet the daily needs of those isolated at home who cannot arrange for the delivery of food or basic necessities on their own. A statement encouraged quarantined residents to rely on family, friends and, where possible, commercial delivery of food, so that the hotline could be reserved for those in “real need”.

This has proved challenging in the past weeks, as courier services have suspended door-to-door deliveries despite unprecedented demand. Supermarkets and drugstores were emptied of groceries and over-the-counter medicines as residents grappled with mixed messages about whether the city would be shut down.

Officials said they have started distributing care packages containing traditional Chinese medicine to residential homes. They said they would soon add paracetamol and pulse oximeters to these packs, and are mobilizing volunteers to deliver them to the elderly and those isolated at home.

“I will admit that because of the large number of people in this situation, we may not be able to reach everyone,” city leader Mrs Lam told a news conference on Sunday.

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