An elderly man receives his first dose of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in Hong Kong, Feb 25, 2022. (KIN CHEUNG/AP)
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu and medical doctors on Tuesday called on the public to get vaccinated — and in particular to ensure the elderly and children get vaccinated — as the city continued to record around 10,000 COVID-19 infections on a daily basis, further straining the city’s already-burdened medical system.
According to Lee, about 95 percent of COVID-19-related deaths were among those aged 60 or older. About 20 percent of those aged over 80, and 80 percent of those aged below three, have not yet been vaccinated.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday before the weekly Executive Council meeting, Lee stressed that the COVID-19-related death rate among those who have received three doses is more than 50 times lower than it is for people who have not had three shots, adding that vaccinations can protect children and the elderly from becoming critically ill.
According to Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, about 95 percent of COVID-19-related deaths were among those aged 60 or older. About 20 percent of those aged over 80, and 80 percent of those aged below three, have not yet been vaccinated
On Tuesday, the city reported 9,187 newly contracted local cases. Nine more patients died.
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Chow Pak-chin, president of local think tank Wisdom Hong Kong, said that ongoing vaccination promotional campaigns are the best way to raise public awareness of the need to get vaccinated, and thereby reduce the risk of infection leading to severe illness or death. He also suggested that the authorities could consider legislating on vaccinations, to further increase the city’s inoculation rate.
Chow added that over 90 percent of elderly people in Singapore have been vaccinated, while the rate in Hong Kong is only 70 percent. Such a gap not only indicates that the elderly in Hong Kong are at greater risk, but may also prove problematic for the city as it struggles to fight the pandemic.
Noting that vaccine hesitancy remains prevalent among the elderly in Hong Kong, Chow called on residents to follow scientific advice and not be misled by rumors.
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Lynn Su, an event planner who lives in Kwai Tsing district, said she was not very worried about the latest outbreak, as she has confidence in the protection provided by the vaccines. Her 59-year-old mother, who got a booster shot in March, only showed mild symptoms after she contracted the virus again recently.
Chow Pak-chin, president of local think tank Wisdom Hong Kong, said over 90 percent of elderly people in Singapore have been vaccinated, while the rate in Hong Kong is only 70 percent. Such a gap not only indicates that the elderly in Hong Kong are at greater risk, but may also prove problematic for the city as it struggles to fight the pandemic
Leung Chi-chiu, chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association’s advisory committee on communicable diseases, predicts that the peak of the current wave will be much lower than it was in the early stages of the fifth wave, as about one-fifth of the city’s population has already been infected, and the rate of reinfection after three months is only 1.5 to 1.9 percent.
At the daily pandemic briefing on Tuesday, Hong Kong health officials announced they were extending all social distancing measures by two more weeks, until Sept 21, and pledged to strictly implement various anti-pandemic measures, such as the vaccine pass and the health code arrangements. The National Day fireworks display was also canceled due to the latest pandemic developments.
READ MORE: CE: 'Reverse quarantine' talks with mainland continuing
During the morning media session, Lee also said that discussions about a proposed “reverse quarantine” arrangement for those traveling from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland have already begun, even though mainland and Hong Kong authorities are still dealing with the latest wave of the pandemic.
Lee said officials have been looking into more detailed plans, including those related to the criteria for virus testing, the implementation of a “closed-loop” arrangement for those under reverse quarantine, ways to transport travelers across the border, and related manpower allocations.
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