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Hong Kong stories document 55,353 day-to-day Covid infections

HONG KONG: As health officials reported a record 55,353 daily infections and over 100 deaths occurring on March 2, Hong Kong Chief executive Carrie Lam said people’s movements may be restricted during mandatory testing this month of the entire population for Covid.

Authorities are still refining the plan, but reiterated that there would be no “complete” lockdown that would prevent entry and exit from the city, Lam told reporters.

Amidst soaring numbers of COVID-19 cases in its worst outbreak of the pandemic caused by the Omicron variant, Hong Kong is planning to test its more than 7 million residents.

On March 2, officials reported 117 deaths, taking the total number of deaths above 1,000, with most being elderly patients who were not fully vaccinated.

“We recorded about 55,000 infections today, which is within our expectation. Recently, every two or three days the number of confirmed cases is doubling,” said Albert Au, a health officer with the Centre for Health Protection, adding that cases have not yet peaked.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities have warned Americans against traveling to Hong Kong because of rising cases and restrictions imposed by the city and mainland China, under their “zero-tolerance” policy.

Hong Kong’s hospitals are being overwhelmed by the latest COVID-19 surge, with officials stating they have reached maximum bed capacity and some general wards are being converted into isolation areas.

Officials said public mortuaries have also reached full capacity, and the private sector is being asked for help to store bodies.

This week, supermarket shelves were cleared, as residents stockpiled daily necessities after reports spread of a possible citywide lockdown.

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In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin backed Hong Kong’s virus control measures.

Wang said the measures “are necessary, science-based and responsible to effectively prevent and control the epidemic and ensure the health of Hong Kong residents and foreigners in Hong Kong.”

“We believe that the relevant measures will further build up the international community’s confidence in Hong Kong’s epidemic control,” Wang said at a daily briefing.