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China Daily Global / 2020-07 / 31 / Page001

HK sees record daily surge in COVID-19 cases

By GU MENGYAN in Hong Kong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-07-31 00:00

Exhibition center will be 500-bed triage site as city copes with soaring number of infections

Hong Kong reported a new daily record of 149 coronavirus cases on Thursday, marking the ninth day in a row of new infections in triple digits, as more than 100 confirmed patients were waiting for hospital admissions.

The new daily surge included four imported cases and an all-time high of 145 locally transmitted cases, with 61 from unknown sources, taking the local total to 3,151.

As of 9 am on Thursday, 1,168 COVID-19 patients, including 39 in critical condition, were being treated at public hospitals, and an additional 162 patients in stable condition were being treated in a newly converted medical facility in Lei Yue Mun.

In order to cope with the soaring infections, Hong Kong's Hospital Authority will use the AsiaWorld-Expo-an exhibition center turned into a community treatment facility with 500 beds-as a triage center for patients whose ages range from 18 to 60.

Asymptomatic patients will be kept at the AsiaWorld-Expo for 72 hours before being sent to the medical facility in Lei Yue Mun if they remain stable.

Patients with pneumonia-like symptoms will be transferred to a hospital if they get worse while they are at AsiaWorld-Expo. Those in the most serious condition will be sent directly to hospital isolation wards.

Through the surge in cases, Hong Kong has the highest number of infections of any city in China.

Zhong Nanshan, a prominent respiratory disease expert from the mainland, suggested the Hong Kong government should roll out free virus testing for every resident of the city to identify asymptomatic cases.

Speaking to China Central Television on Wednesday, Zhong said the mainland will provide all necessary support to help the city quell the outbreak, including providing test kits, manpower for virus testing and building temporary hospitals.

The veteran doctor also suggested that Hong Kong strengthen its communication with the Chinese mainland on disease prevention and the treatment of COVID patients.

Zhong said Hong Kong's anti-COVID measures have worked so far because there has been no exponential growth in new cases, while pointing out that the stringent measures applied in mainland cities would harm the economy of such a densely populated city as Hong Kong.

The government should take a hard line against those who "deliberately make trouble and hold assemblies" at this critical stage of taming the outbreak, he said.

Zhong expressed support for the ban on dining in restaurants in Hong Kong, saying they are a major source of infections in the city.

However, the Hong Kong government amended the policy on Thursday. Starting on Friday, it will permit dining in restaurants from 5 am to 6 pm.

At a news briefing on Thursday, Undersecretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi said the Hong Kong government had realized the difficulties faced by some people who have to work outside and had decided to amend the policy.

He added that the number of customers should be limited to no more than half of the seats in the restaurant and no more than two people per table.



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