Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday that it would take up to three months to stabilise a worsening Covid-19 pandemic that has overwhelmed health facilities and forced the postponement of an upcoming leadership election.
“Our government needs to focus on the epidemic,” Lam said at a news conference after a week that saw daily infections jump by 60% so far this month. It “cannot be diverted… we cannot afford to lose,” she said.
Quarantine facilities in Hong Kong have reached capacity and hospital beds are more than 95% full as cases spiral; with some patients, including elderly, left on beds outside in chilly, sometimes rainy weather.
Lam also said the city is planning to make it mandatory for all residents in the city to get tested for Covid-19; deploying a tactic widely used to curtail outbreaks on China’s mainland.
“So one of the measures that we are planning and planning very seriously is a mandatory universal testing,” she said.
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Lam and her government have struggled to curtail a widening outbreak of the coronavirus in Hong Kong.
The city’s current outbreak, with more than 6,000 cases logged on Thursday; is the worst Hong Kong has seen.
Hong Kong will also postpone the election of its next leader until May 8.
South Korea cases top 100k
South Korea’s new daily Covid cases topped 100,000 for the first time amid its Omicron outbreak; with authorities saying social distancing measures would be only slightly eased ahead of the March 9 presidential election.
Authorities announced on Friday; they would move a curfew on restaurants and cafes from 9pm to 10pm, a nod to increasing criticism from business owners.
The estimated range of England’s Covid-19 reproduction “R” number is between 0.8 and 1.0, unchanged on the previous week; the UK health security agency said on Friday, with the daily cases possibly reducing at a slightly quicker rate.
The first African countries selected to receive the technology necessary to produce mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 are Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa as well as Tunisia; a summit meeting of European Union and African Union nations heard on Friday.