H.K.’s Lam to Review Travel Ban When Fifth Wave Eases: HK01
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong will map out its plan to resume quarantine-free travel after the current fifth wave of the pandemic subsides, HK01 cited Chief Executive Carrie Lam as saying in a letter to a local business group.
“As soon as the fifth wave stabilizes,” the government will spare no effort in relaunching Hong Kong on all fronts, Lam said in a letter to the International Business Committee dated March 18, according to HK01. She detailed the city’s recent efforts in combating the pandemic and asked for the committee’s “understanding and tolerance,” the local news site said.
The city’s “utmost priority” is to vaccinate the elderly, the local news site quoted Lam as saying. Hong Kong is battling its worst outbreak of Covid since the pandemic started, with its death rate among the highest in the world and care centers for the elderly and disabled particularly hard hit.
Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip said at a press conference with the chief executive on Saturday that about 52% of residents in elderly homes have been inoculated with at least one jab. Fatalities have been concentrated in the under-vaccinated elderly, and the spread of the virus to more than 750 care facilities – including those that are home to disabled residents – has sparked concern.
Hong Kong’s health-care system has buckled under the weight of the outbreak, with pressure on hospitals, mortuaries and crematoriums.
“Our crematoriums are working day and night, and they are already close to their capacity,” Lam said earlier this week. “Within such a short period of time, we have seen so many deaths, and that would affect the logistics of funeral matters.”
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said in a statement on Friday that it had received about 330 coffins from China, after local suppliers experienced difficulties. A total of more than 1,200 coffins have arrived in Hong Kong over the past five days and a further 500 are expected to arrive in the next two days, according to the statement.
The city reported a total of 16,597 new confirmed cases on Saturday and 243 deaths, 61 of them backlogged. Health officials said 63 Covid patients were currently in critical condition.
Lam said at the briefing that there there had been a reduction in the city’s workforce because of the pandemic but the situation was improving. About 32,200 public servants, 17% of civil-service employees, had been infected by the virus as of March 14, and 70% had recovered and resumed work. Some 20% of hospital and rail operator MTR Corp. staff had contracted Covid.
By the end of March, all civil servants will be required to be fully vaccinated to be allowed into office, Nip said.
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