December 4, 2022

As the Govt spreads, the Hong Kong working class spins the district

HONG KONG, Feb. 18 (Reuters) – 98-year-old Lam Foon sits on a hospital bed outside the entrance to Hong Kong’s Caritas Medical Center with a blanket soaked in blankets and waits for tests to confirm his initial positive outcome for Govt. 19.

“I’m not feeling well,” he told Reuters through a surgical mask, similarly wearing a mask and face mask for a covered patient.

Lam was one of dozens of patients lying in Caritas’ parking lot on Thursday as there was not much room inside the hospital, which serves 400,000 people, in the working-class district of Chiang Shah Wan on the Kowloon Peninsula. The temperature dropped to 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) in the middle of some rains.

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The medical staff could not say how long Lam would have to wait. Those who have a positive test for goiter in the early stages should have additional tests before treatment.

This and similar scenarios at the Global Financial Center are a sign of the public health system under severe stress as COVID-19 cases are on the rise, filling more than 95% of all hospital beds. read more

Once largely isolated from the corona virus epidemic, Hong Kong is facing an outbreak, businesses are paralyzed and some are losing patience with the government’s “zero COVID” policies.

In a set of working-class districts in nearby Sham Shui Bow, some residential blocks and public gardens have been sealed off, crowds at malls and street markets have eased, and stalls selling diners and Nick-Knox, once known as Die Boy Tongs, are quiet after dark.

Trevor Chung, 29, a doctor in Caritas, blamed the government for part of the lack of adequate planning, beds and other medical equipment, and a long-term shortage of manpower.

“The government underestimated the situation,” Chung said, wearing a full face and blue Hazmat dress. “I expect things to get so bad … there are so many elderly people in this district, and so many have not been vaccinated.”

Hong Kong authorities on Thursday apologized for the devastation caused to hospitals with a population of 7.4 million.

The city’s zero-govt policy refers to sending asymptomatic people and those in mild conditions to hospitals or isolated centers, although the government is now adjusting its strategy as the health system is overcrowded.

Lam under pressure

The eruption has put further pressure on Hong Kong President Gary Lam, whose five-year term is set to end in June.

Although Lam has said that surrendering to the virus is “not an option”, some are skeptical that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “top job” for Hong Kong is to control the virus.

“You see I’m wearing two masks. I have to protect myself because the government is not protecting me,” said Lo Kai-wai, a 59-year-old logistics worker, standing in line at a mobile checkpoint he had already reached. Its daily allotment is 3,000 people.

“I do not want to see her (Lam) get a second term.”

Some business owners who have been affected by the restrictions imposed by the government are also questioning the sustainability of current policies.

“The government needs to find a better balance to control the virus, but it also needs to allow people to get better at their lives,” said Timothy Boone, 23, a hotel manager near the hospital whose business has been declining. Up to 60% in the middle of an eruption.

“Zero-COVID policy is a mission impossible.”

However, others are very excited.

“If everyone is ready to be vaccinated, the situation will improve,” said Lung Mei-su, 78, at a testing center in another district.

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Additional Report by Joyce Chow; Editing by Mary Rondrie and Karisma Singh

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.