Saturday, February 26, 2022

Overwhelmed By COVID Cases, Hong Kong Revises Testing & Quarantine Procedures



Four days ago Hong Kong broke records reporting 8,000 daily COVID casesyesterday they reported over 10,000 cases, and today Hong Kong reported a record 17,063 cases. This rapid rise is all the more remarkable because a little over a month ago, Hong Kong was often reporting fewer than 20 cases a day. 

Cases have quadrupled since China's President Xi Jinping told HK Officials their "Overriding mission" is to Stabilise & Control the epidemic 10 days ago, and dispatched a team of advisors to Hong Kong. 

With the Mainland reportedly pushing for even stricter lockdowns, and Hong Kong's ability to deal with this tsunami of cases eroding by the day, we are seeing major adjustments being made by local authorities practically on a daily basis. 

Hong Kong Tightens Social Distancing As Daily Cases Exceed 8,600

Hong Kong Orders City-Wide Compulsory Testing In March - School Closures

Hong Kong CHP Revises COVID (Hospital & Community Isolation) Discharge Criteria

Today - in order to reduce the strain on testing facilities, and open up beds for quarantine and isolation facilities - Hong Kong announced that positive results from home test kits would no longer need to be confirmed by PCR testing, and further reduced the quarantine and/or isolation time for fully vaccinated individuals who test negative on day 6 or 7. 

It is proposed that those who are positive in the rapid test will be exempted from nucleic acid re-examination
February 25, 202

The government announced that it will update the priority and method of testing services from now on. In addition to adding rapid test kits to high-risk locations and replacing mandatory testing after the containment operation with rapid testing, it also plans to allow those who have tested positive for rapid testing to register their positives directly through the online system. As a result, no nucleic acid test re-examination is required to be treated as a positive case.

The government stated that the epidemic situation in Hong Kong has been very severe recently, and the number of new cases has continued to be high. Although testing resources have been gradually strengthened, the demand is increasing day by day. As a result, the work of testing nucleic acid testing samples is under heavy pressure, and a large number of samples are yet to be tested. Some members of the public may feel anxious after submitting the samples for many days and still have not received the test results. Obviously, the situation is not ideal.

The authorities pointed out that although the sensitivity of the rapid test kit is slightly lower than that of nucleic acid testing, it can still quickly and relatively accurately detect patients with high viral load, and it is convenient and easy to use, and can be used on a large scale; the public has also adapted very well in the past few weeks. Do a quick test yourself.

With the strong support of the central government, the government has purchased a large number of rapid test kits. Therefore, it has decided to revise the mandatory testing strategy on the basis of risk-based principles until further notice.

The government will continue to impose restrictions and test announcements on higher-risk buildings, and plans to cover more buildings, and subsequent mandatory testing regulations will be changed to allow residents to undergo rapid testing.

February 26, 2022

The Secretary for Food and Health, Sophia Chan, said that infected people who have been admitted to community isolation facilities and close contacts of home quarantine who have received at least two doses of the new crown vaccine can undergo rapid testing on the sixth and seventh days. If the results are negative, Leave the community isolation facility or home early.

Chen Zhaoshi said at the briefing today that the scale of the new wave of the epidemic is unprecedented and is not expected to reach its peak. All sectors of society must face up to the threat of the epidemic.

She said the latest figures showed 20,087 people were under home quarantine and 5,897 completed quarantine. According to past requirements, infected persons admitted to community isolation facilities, persons who are yet to be hospitalized, and close contacts under home quarantine are subject to 14-day medical surveillance.

After the latest risk assessment, the government has decided that if these people have received at least two doses of the new crown vaccine, rapid testing can be carried out on the sixth and seventh days. Leave a community isolation facility or home.

Chen Zhaoshi said that in order to speed up the circulation of hospital beds and allow medical resources to be used for urgent cases, the Hospital Authority will make professional judgments on the specific discharge conditions of admitted patients. Facility admission will allow patients to be discharged as soon as possible, stay and recuperate in homes, institutions or other suitable facilities until a negative result is obtained, and then they can leave safely.

Unlike the mainland, which has thrown huge national resources at containing local outbreaks, Hong Kong - a city of just over 7 million people - has a limited infrastructure and capacity to manage large numbers of cases.  
Since Omicron has peaked and retreated in other countries - it is reasonable to assume it will eventually do so in Hong Kong - but every day until that happens increases the risk the virus will jump to the Mainland.

And while Omicron is not as severe as earlier variants, China's leaders are well aware their widely distributed Sinovac vaccine is expected to provide little protection, and their population is assumed to have little acquired immunity against COVID. 

It is possible that enough highly transmissible Omicron has already reached the mainland to ensure pandemic wave, but for now Chinese leaders are treating Hong Kong as their biggest and most critical firewall against the virus. 

And that means the people of Hong Kong are likely in for a very difficult March.