February 21, 2022: -On Friday, Hong Kong needs to protect its healthcare system, which is under tremendous stress right now because of a spike in coronavirus cases, a health expert told CNBC.
On Thursday, Hong Kong is into its fifth wave, driven by the more virulent omicron strain. Cases have increased sharply, from just more than 100 new points per day at the start of February to a record of 6,166 recent cases.
“Essentially, in Hong Kong, what we need to do is to protect the integrity of the health system,” said Gabriel Leung, dean of medicine at the University of Hong Kong. “The health system in Hong Kong is under enormous stress.”
Authorities have blamed the surgeon for the “extreme transmission speed” of the omicron variant and said that the “tsunami” of news cases has “far exceeded” the capacity for treatment, tracing testing, and isolation of the city.
Hospitals face “immense pressure,” the government said this week. The occupancy rate at public hospitals was 92% as of February 18, data from Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority showed.
According to media reports, there were scenes of patients huddled on beds left in the open outside the hospitals as facilities became overwhelmed.
Leung told CNBC that the city needs to lessen the speed of the current surge.
“The only way you can slow it down is really to go and reduce further the people from mixing and from moving regarding in the city,” he said.
“So if you call that a lockdown, or whether you call that enhanced or stepped-up public health and social measures, I don’t mind the jargon is not the important thing.”
“What we need to do eagerly is to make sure that we protect the integrity of the hospital system, as that we prevent people from further deteriorating if they need help in the hospitals,” he continued.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said there were no plans for a citywide lockdown.
“The response of the Hong Kong SAR Government is to enhance the capacities at various parts of this anti-epidemic effort, and we are doing this,” she said.
“I would have to say it very clear that we have no plans for any widespread city lockdown as you have seen in some of the other places,” she told reporters.