HKSAR gov't strives to reduce severe cases, deaths of COVID-19: officials

The Hong Kong SAR government assumes primary responsibility in fighting COVID-19 and will strive to stabilize the epidemic situation especially in reducing severe cases and deaths.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government assumes primary responsibility in fighting COVID-19 and will strive to stabilize the epidemic situation especially in reducing severe cases and deaths, senior officials have said.

"We will lead and mobilize social forces to work together to fight the epidemic," Secretary for the Civil Service of the HKSAR government Patrick Nip said in an interview with Xinhua.

In the fifth wave of the epidemic in Hong Kong, the mortality rate of the elderly is relatively high. Of the deaths, 90 percent were not vaccinated or had not completed the vaccination.

The key task now is to continue to maintain the public's motivation of vaccination, especially the elderly and children, and reduce their severe illness and mortality, Nip said.

About 2.1 million people in Hong Kong have received their third doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Nip said, further increase of the vaccination rate is important for Hong Kong to control the fifth wave of the epidemic.

In the future, the HKSAR government will focus on vaccinating the elderly and children by sending outreach team to provide vaccination service in residential care homes and schools, as well as setting up more vaccination centers in the community, he said.

"At present, the focus of our anti-epidemic work is to reduce infection, severe cases and deaths. Reducing severe cases and death is an urgent priority and requires greatly increasing the treatment capacity and facilities of hospitals," Sophia Chan, secretary for Food and Health of the HKSAR government, told Xinhua in an interview.

The HKSAR government announced earlier converting Queen Elizabeth Hospital to a designated hospital for COVID-19 patients and there will be at least six designated hospitals, Chan said, adding that the number of beds for COVID-19 patients in other hospitals will also be increased.

In Hong Kong, since the fifth wave of the epidemic, people over 60 years old have accounted for more than 90 percent of the total deaths in COVID-19.

"We attach great importance to patients with mild symptoms but still at risk, especially the elderly. Therefore, we have designed some methods to find these elderly people as early as possible and sent them to isolation facilities," Chan said.

Under the triage system, community isolation facilities play a role for the elderly and other patients who need priority treatment. Temporary facilities, for instance, provide care services for elderly patients who can not take care of themselves, she said.

As for elderly patients who stay at home, Hong Kong's Hospital Authority provides them with telephone consultation service and hotlines, in which professional nurses call them and assess whether they need to go to isolation facilities, she said.

To protect the elderly and control the spread of the epidemic in residential care homes, the most important thing is to vaccinate the elderly who remained unvaccinated as soon as possible. Secondly, arrange treatment for the elderly under the triage system according to their condition, and thirdly, implement "closed-loop management" in residential care homes, said Law Chi-kwong, secretary for Labor and Welfare of the HKSAR government.

"One of our priorities is to reduce infections in elderly homes and strengthen the protection of the elderly," Law said, adding that with relevant supporting arrangements in place, the HKSAR government has given priority to promoting the "closed-loop management" of residential care homes without any infection.

Acting Secretary for Home Affairs of the HKSAR government Jack Chan said that to defeat the epidemic, the HKSAR government and the community are equally important.

"We must use our volunteer efforts where they are most needed, such as delivering supplies to the elderly, grassroots families and ethnic minorities," Chan said.

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