Hong Kong to let some COVID-positive children stay home despite separation fears


Children rest at a community vaccination center, after receiving a dose of Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Hong Kong, China, on February 25, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

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HONG KONG, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Hong Kong authorities have said they will allow some children who test positive for COVID-19 to stay at home, rather than be separated from their parents and hospitalized, after a public outcry of families across the city.

Some families in Hong Kong had despaired of strict COVID rules that even saw toddlers in some cases taken from their parents and isolated, prompting some families to leave the city. Read more

Hong Kong has long had an enviable record of suppressing the coronavirus with a “dynamic zero” COVID policy, in line with mainland China, but as an Omicron wave now overwhelms the city, life-saving steps render unbearable life for many of its 7.4 million inhabitants. Read more

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Hong Kong’s hospital authority told Reuters late on Friday that not all COVID-positive children would be required to go to hospital.

“In general, children confirmed to be in stable condition can rest at home. If there is a medical need for hospitalization, they will be arranged to receive treatment and care at the pediatric isolation facilities of public hospitals. “, said the authority in a press release.

He said he would seek to allow parents or carers who also test positive to enter the same wards, but that may not always be possible given the “severely overcrowded” pediatric isolation facilities in public hospitals.

The clarification comes as the city announced a record 10,000 daily cases on Friday, with some experts predicting 180,000 daily cases in March.

As it battles the surge in cases, Hong Kong has rushed to further accelerate its construction of isolation and treatment facilities.

Local hospitals have been inundated with new cases. Universal testing is to be rolled out later with China’s support.

Logistical challenges have prompted authorities to announce plans for simplified procedures that will allow people who test positive with rapid tests to report their results without undergoing more rigorous nucleic acid testing.

Hong Kong does not officially allow people to self-isolate, although thousands have done so as infections rise faster than new rooms become available.

Meanwhile, concerns have grown over the spread of the virus in Hong Kong’s nursing homes for the elderly, with 420 or more than half of such facilities in the city now battling outbreaks. Immunization rates among Hong Kong’s elderly are relatively low, and many suffer from chronic illnesses.

The outbreak in Hong Kong poses potential political risks in a sensitive year for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently commented publicly on the need for the Hong Kong government to bring the outbreak under control. Read more

On Friday, Chinese health authorities reported the highest daily number of COVID cases arriving from outside the mainland in nearly two years, with dozens of more than 250 or more new infections coming from Hong Kong.

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Reporting by James Pomfret and the Hong Kong bureau; Editing by William Mallard

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