Hong Kong maps COVID vaccine adoption conditions amid record number of cases


HONG KONG, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Hong Kong will expand its vaccine bubble to include shopping malls and supermarkets, authorities confirmed on Monday, but added there would be exemptions and random inspections in some places, so that they are battling another record surge of COVID. -19 cases.

The outbreak has overwhelmed health facilities in the global financial hub, with a new daily record of 7,533 infections and 13 deaths, including an 11-month-old child, mounting pressure on the government.

As most major cities learn to live with the virus, Hong Kong has imposed its toughest restrictions yet, with Chinese President Xi Jinping declaring that controlling the disease is the city’s “primary mission”.

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Hong Kong’s “dynamic zero-COVID” policies, mirroring those of mainland China, have contributed to its woes and are not sustainable, some experts say. Read more

The government will launch a controversial “vaccine passport” on Thursday that only allows people who have been vaccinated to enter places such as supermarkets and clubs, a move that some critics say raises privacy concerns.

The plan requires everyone aged 12 and over to have taken at least one dose of the vaccine to enter specified premises, except those with medical exemptions, although inspections are random at some sites, account given limited resources.

“Bringing your vaccination card is the natural thing to do,” said Kevin Choi, assistant secretary for food and health.

People line up at dusk at a makeshift testing center for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Hong Kong, China February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

Operational difficulties in some places, such as malls, supermarkets and department stores, made it difficult to carry out active checks, he added.

The final stage of the program, by the end of June, will see people over the age of 18 required to have received three doses of the vaccine, authorities said.

Hong Kong’s public hospitals have been under heavy strain, with more than 95% occupancy, as they struggle to cope with the influx of patients, including the elderly, many of whom have resisted vaccinations. Read more

Hong Kong has launched an “all-out fight” against the outbreak, the city’s No. 2 official John Lee said on Sunday. Read more

As the emergency grows, private hospitals will soon begin taking in patients from public hospitals, while construction has begun on Lantau Island on around 10,000 community and isolation units, authorities said in a statement.

Authorities are also closely monitoring outbreaks in care homes, with infections reported from around 250 centers involving around 700 residents.

The fifth wave of the disease is “fierce” and the government must allocate sufficient funds to help citizens and businesses, Finance Secretary Paul Chan, who will unveil the annual budget on Wednesday, said in a blog post this weekend. end.

Unless the budget provides unprecedented relief measures, economists say, it will be difficult to see how the economy can avoid contracting again after emerging last year from its most prolonged recession, which has lasted from 2019 to 2020.

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Reporting by Sara Cheng, Twinnie Siu and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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