Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS GLOBAL UPDATE

Hong Kong seeks private hospital help; South Africa registers 1,147 new cases

Hong Kong seeks private hospital help; South Africa registers 1,147 new cases
Employees pack rapid antigen test kits in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, 3 March 2022. (Photo: Paul Yeung / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

South Africa registered 1,147 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 3,684,319. No further Covid-19-related deaths were reported and total official deaths remain at 99,543. A total of 32,027,146 vaccines have been administered.

Hong Kong health authorities are liaising with private hospitals to create space for Covid-19 patients as the city battles its worst wave yet of the pandemic that is claiming the lives of at least a hundred people a day.

More government-hospital patients being treated for ailments other than Covid-19 are sent to private facilities if they are in a stable condition and in recovery to free up beds in the public system, health officials said on Sunday. Some private hospitals are accepting mild-symptom Covid patients, they said.

Hong Kong reported 31,008 Covid cases and 153 deaths on Sunday. Although reported infection counts were less than 40,000 for the second straight day, after rising to more than 50,000 in the three days prior, officials said the decline could be due to unreported rapid testing results and because of the “weekend effect”.

 

Key developments 

Hong Kong seeks help of private hospitals  

Hong Kong authorities are liaising with private hospitals to make space for Covid patients as the city battles its worst wave yet of the virus. The government is sending more government hospital patients who are being treated for ailments other than Covid-19 to private facilities if they are in a stable condition and in recovery, to free up beds in the public system, health officials said at a press briefing on Sunday.

“We will continue to be in touch with private hospitals to reduce pressure on public hospitals,” said Larry Lee, chief manager of the Hospital Authority.

The city’s health system and morgues are under the pressure of a record outbreak that’s pushed its death rate to one of the highest in the world.

China cases jump as outbreak spreads in Qingdao 

China reported its highest number of new daily Covid cases in more than two months as the eastern coastal city of Qingdao detected rising infections and outbreaks spread in northeastern Jilin and southern Guangdong.

A total of 175 locally transmitted symptomatic cases were found on Saturday, 88 of them in Qingdao, according to the National Health Commission. The provinces of Jilin and Guangdong both reported dozens of new cases.

China’s Han says private hospitals must play part 

Hong Kong’s private and public hospitals should perform their duties in treating and saving people during the pandemic, China’s vice-premier, Han Zheng, said in a meeting with Hong Kong representatives on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on Sunday, HK01 cited unidentified people as saying.

Han said the central government firmly supports the city’s anti-epidemic measures and urged its government to reduce serious illness and deaths from the virus among the elderly as soon as possible, according to the report.

Hong Kong can contain Covid, official says 

Hong Kong’s chief secretary for administration, John Lee, said in a blog post on Sunday that the city can reverse the trend of rising coronavirus cases and achieve Covid-zero as it increases isolation facilities and testing,

Nine projects built with the help of China will provide about 50,000 beds and enhance the city’s isolation capabilities, Lee said in a blog post on Sunday. Some of the facilities are expected to be completed this month, and the others in April or later, he said. Authorities are working on a compulsory testing scheme for Hong Kong’s entire population of 7.4 million.

The city’s financial markets will remain open in the event of restrictions being imposed on residents, including stocks, derivatives, bonds, currencies and foreign exchange, the city’s financial secretary, Paul Chan, said in a separate blog post.

Australia gold output shrank on virus 

Australia’s gold output fell by 4% to 315 tons last year from 2020, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic, Surbiton Associates said.

Although producers continued to operate well in the circumstances, the pandemic restrictions had an increasing impact, Managing Director Sandra Close said in a statement. Personnel shortages and burn-outs have been taking their toll, she said. Other issues included limited availability of workers from other states, a shortage of truck drivers and disruption to interstate haulage

Masks still required in Mecca and Medina 

Saudi Arabia will lift almost all Covid-19 restrictions, effective from Sunday, after the progress of the national vaccination programme and high overall rates of immunity.

Citizens will no longer need to wear masks or practice physical distancing outdoors, state-run SPA reported, citing a statement issued by the interior ministry.

Worshippers will no longer need to physically distance inside mosques, including the holy sites of Mecca and Medina, but will be required to remain wearing masks in these places, according to an SPA report.

Ireland ends final restriction 

Ireland lifted its last Covid-19 restriction, ending the requirement for international travellers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. “Another step forward in our Covid efforts,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tweeted. Face masks are still recommended, but not required, according to the public health website. DM/MC

– With assistance from Stanley James and Jinshan Hong.

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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