Hong Kong invokes emergency powers to contain Covid-19 outbreak

As Hong Kong faces its worst-ever outbreak of Covid-19, the government has invoked emergency powers to allow the Chinese government to provide necessary immediate support to contain the outbreak.

The emergency powers will allow doctors, nurses and other health practitioners from mainland China to help in fighting what Hong Kong health officials viewed as a “dire epidemic situation” that was fuelled by the surge of Omicron cases across the densely-populated Chinese territory.

In a statement, the Hong Kong government said the powers “will provide a legal framework for the Chinese government to render the necessary emergent support to Hong Kong in a more effective and expeditious manner.”

“Hong Kong is now facing a very dire epidemic situation, which continues to deteriorate rapidly,” the government said, citing that the outbreak is expected to “continue to escalate exponentially and go beyond the epidemic control capacity” of the territory’s administration.

If this happens, officials said Hong Kong’s healthcare system, manpower, anti-epidemic facilities and resources will soon be insufficient to handle the huge number of daily cases.

Health authorities reported Thursday morning 8,674 new cases, majority of which are local
transmissions.

For the past 14 days, nearly 50,000 Omicron cases have been recorded.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most densely-populated places with many families living in small high- rise apartments, making it impossible for Covid-infected people to isolate themselves.

Currently, the government is constructing temporary medical facilities to help deal with the expected influx of patients.

A group of experts from mainland China are also in Hong Kong to help in the pandemic response and oversee the construction of emergency medical facilities.

Next month, the Hong Kong government will begin the compulsory testing of its 7.4 million people as it also plans to implement a “vaccine passport” that will require residents aged 12 and older to have at least one Covid-19 vaccination.

Many residents criticized the “vaccine passport” requirement, calling it a “draconian approach.”

But the government said residents will need the “vaccine passport” to gain access to public and private places, including supermarkets.

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