Hong Kong’s COVID-19 cases and related deaths tripled in December; Urge people not to stock up on medicines

Hong Kong’s average number of Covid-19 cases and related deaths tripled in December, authorities say It has lifted most of the Covid-19 restrictions and prepare to reopen borders with mainland China.

Meanwhile, a health expert said people should not “worry too much” about resuming quarantine-free travel with the mainland as long as there are no major coronavirus mutations.

Paramedics take a patient to the accident and emergency department at United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong on December 21, 2022. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

According to data from the Center for Health Protection, Hong Kong’s seven-day average of Covid-related deaths more than tripled in December, rising from 16.4 on the first day of the month to 56.4 on New Year’s Eve.

The seven-day average of reported infections has also nearly tripled, from 8,582 on December 1 to 23,154 on the last day of the month.

The number of Covid-19 patients hospitalized daily has also nearly doubled. Hospital Authority data showed that the seven-day rolling average of daily hospitalizations for Covid-19 rose from 340.7 at the start of December to 648.6 on December 31.

Hospital Authority Director (Integrated Clinical Services) Larry Lee told RTHK Tuesday morning that Accident and emergency (A&E) services at public hospitals were ‘relatively busy’ During the recent holiday period, private clinics were closed.

General hospitals’ A&E departments have treated more than 4,000 patients a day over the past few days, Lee said, with waiting times reaching six to eight hours.

Concerns about the resumption of travel

The Hospital Authority has already planned for a potential increase in demand for services after the upcoming resumption of quarantine-free travel between the city and mainland China. The department’s chief secretary, Eric Chan, said the border could reopen as soon as Sunday.

“We will give priority to providing medical services and medicines to Hong Kong residents,” Li said.

Speaking on the same radio show, Liu Poon of the University of Hong Kong’s Department of Public Health Laboratory Sciences said he had not noticed any “abnormalities” in the Covid-19 variant data released by the mainland authorities.

Shenzhen Bay Port. Image file: GovHK.

The public health professor said variants currently in circulation on the mainland — Omicron BF.7 and BA.5.2 — could also be found in Hong Kong and abroad.

“as long [mainland’s] The strains of the virus are similar to those in foreign countries or Hong Kong, and the risk should not be too great… The public need not be too worried,” said Poon.

But Bunn said the actual number of infections and booster vaccines given on the mainland remains unclear.

When asked about the potential pressure on the city’s hospitals, Poon said Hong Kong already has many local cases and it is important to better control local transmission.

“But of course, as we start to live with the virus, we need to focus on how we can gradually ease restrictions so that we can… live our lives as normal.” Bonn added.

Hong Kong relaxed most of its anti-pandemic measures in December, including PCR tests for international arrivals and limits on mass gatherings. However, wearing a mask remains compulsory, including outside, and people who report a Covid infection to the authorities are subject to an isolation order.

hoarding of medication;

Hong Kong residents are emptying shelves of paracetamol-containing medicines as the city’s two main pharmacy chains – Mannings and Watsons – impose restrictions on purchases of fever and cold relief products.

The accident and emergency department at United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong on December 21, 2022. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The Bureau of Health said in a statement on Monday that the supply of medicines containing paracetamol in Hong Kong “remains stable” and there is no need to stockpile it.

The health authority added that it had enough stock in the public health care system and that it planned to provide more for patients in need, such as low-income families or people who could not purchase it “due to regional shortages”.

According to the statement, citizens were urged to avoid stockpiling medicines, including those containing paracetamol. “There is also no need to panic when buying a certain type of medicine,” the statement reads.

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