China will assist Hong Kong amid a surge of COVID-19 cases by helping to boost testing, treatment and quarantine capacity in the city, with no current plans to implement a lockdown.
Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary John Lee joined Health Secretary Sophia Chan and security chief Chris Tang on a visit to Shenzhen on the mainland over the weekend to secure Chinese assistance as the city reports more than a thousand new confirmed cases each day, Reuters reported.
Lee said leaders at the meeting were on the “same wavelength” for battling the surge driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant, with Chinese officials potentially planning to help supply Hong Kong with lab personnel, hospital beds and protective equipment, according to the wire service .
“All support will be provided. Rapid tests and help building insulation facilities are things we agreed on,” Lee said.
During the pandemic, China has implemented a zero-COVID strategy that has involved putting cities into partial or full lockdowns and performing mass testing in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. But “there are no plans for a lockdown at this stage” in Hong Kong, Lee said, according to Reuters.
Still, hundreds of thousands of people in the city have been forced to take tests every day, and testing centers are overwhelmed, per the wire service.
Hong Kong was reporting an average of 772 infections per day as of Saturday, its highest daily average yet, according to a Reuters dashboard. Since the pandemic began, Hong Kong has reported 20,119 infections and 216 coronavirus-related deaths
Given the uptick in cases, University of Hong Kong officials estimated the city could see 28,000 cases a day by the end of March if trends continue.
Hong Kong, where about 75 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to Reuters, implemented more restrictions this week to battle the surge, including by limiting public gatherings to just two people and prohibiting private gatherings of more than two families.