Hong Kong confirmed a near-record 128 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, as the Hospital Authority (HA) acknowledged that new cases are being found faster than public hospitals can take them in.
The authority said more than 100 patients confirmed with Covid-19 were on Sunday still waiting to be admitted.
HA Chief Manager Linda Yu said it’s “not ideal” that confirmed patients aren’t being taken to the hospital right away, but she appealed for understanding, saying the pressure on the public healthcare system is ‘great’, and staff are having difficulties in catching up with the new cases.
She also reported that 40 coronavirus patients were in critical condition.
Sunday’s tally was the fifth straight day that the number of new infections were in the triple digits, and is the second-highest on record. Another 100 preliminary positives are awaiting confirmation.
Undersecretary for Health Chui Tak-yi said containing the virus is proving to be challenging, with some confirmed cases reporting that they had gone to multiple locations before they were diagnosed. People, he said, should stop gathering during this spike in infections.
Of the 103 locally-transmitted cases, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said it was unable to trace the source of infections for 35.
The remaining 68 patients were all linked to previous infections, including a rapidly-expanding cluster centred on an elderly care home in Tuen Mun.
Nineteen more residents were either confirmed to be infected, or had a positive preliminary test, while three staff members have come down with Covid-19.
Other cases are emerging at elderly homes in Fanling and Sham Shui Po.
In a separate cluster, three more people from the Sheung Shui Slaughterhouse tested positive for the virus, pending confirmation.
The new patients are a buyer, and two workers who handled the pigs there before they were slaughtered.
However, Chui said consumers need not be overly worried. He said there’s no evidence that the virus can be transmitted via food, and reminded people to cook pork thoroughly. In the meantime, he said the abattoir has been disinfected.
Eight seafarers from the Phillippines, Switzerland, India and the UK were among 25 new imported cases – on the day that the government announced tightened regulations regulating the movements of sailors who are exempt from mandatory quarantine.
The latest cases take the total number of infections reported here 2,633.