Beijing Pledges to Support Hong Kong as City Observes Record Number of COVID-19 Infections
After months of no COVID-19-related deaths, health officials in Hong Kong have logged at least five fatalities related to the contagious disease this week. The newly-reported deaths come as the Chinese special administrative region has observed a drastic uptick in new COVID-19 infections, drastically limiting the availability of hospital beds.
Hong Kong officials are set to meet with mainland Chinese counterparts in the linking city of Shenzhen on Saturday to discuss measures to support the global financial hub's coronavirus strategy.
John Lee, Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration, Health Secretary Sophia Chan, and Security Chief Chris Tang are expected to attend the February 12 meeting.
News of the planned discussion came as the city observed an increase in new daily COVID-19 infections, rising to 1,325 known infections and 1,500 preliminary positive cases, according to Chuang Shuk-kwan, a senior health official.
Many have attributed the spike in cases to Lunar New Year celebrations, including travel. Despite containment efforts, the city's most-recent wave has brought about more than 1,000 daily COVID-19 infections for the first time since the pandemic began.
2 February 2022, 01:00 GMT
China's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office issued a statement on Thursday expressing that Beijing was "highly concerned" about the spike in Hong Kong's COVID-19 cases, which amounted to the city's fifth wave.
Officials from mainland China are said to be prepping thousands of lab and medical personnel, as well as millions of COVID-19 testing kits, to assist with public health efforts in Hong Kong.
"The HKMAO, Hong Kong liaison office, National Health Commission, Guangdong and Shenzhen officials will join Hong Kong senior officials to go through Hong Kong’s wish list and decide on the best way going forward," a Beijing-based source told the South China Morning Post.
"The first step will be beefing up Hong Kong’s testing capability," the source detailed, referring to the upcoming talks between Hong Kong and Beijing officials. "Contact tracing, quarantine measures will also be discussed."
Hong Kong officials also reported that a shipment of fresh produce was disrupted by the recent wave of COVID-19 infections. Mainland authorities are seeking to deploy more workers to border checkpoints that process trucks.
"As long as Hong Kong asks, the motherland will surely respond ... Hand in hand, we will surely be able to overcome the epidemic soon," reads a government statement issued by the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.