Hong Kong reports 25,150 new daily coronavirus infections

FILE PHOTO: Corpses are moved to a refrigerated container outside a funeral home, as mortuaries run out of space amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China, March 5, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Hong Kong reported 25,150 new coronavirus infections and 280 deaths on Monday, as authorities struggle to contain a worsening COVID-19 outbreak which has torn through hundreds of nursing homes and hit many of the city’s unvaccinated elderly.

While Hong Kong was successful in controlling the virus in 2021, it has recently seen COVID-19 infections soar to a total of around 500,000. Most of the Chinese-ruled city’s more than 2,200 deaths have been in the past two weeks.

Health authorities said 161 of the deaths reported on Monday were in the past 24 hours while 119 were older fatalities processed with a delay.

Hong Kong reported the most deaths globally per million people in the week to March 6, according to data publication Our World in Data.

The figures come as the global financial hub clings to a “dynamic zero” coronavirus strategy, which as in mainland China seeks to eradicate all outbreaks. Many other countries are meanwhile shifting to a strategy of co-existence with the virus.

The deluge of cases has swamped Hong Kong hospitals, isolation centres and funeral parlours beyond capacity and left the healthcare system, public transport, malls, postal services, supermarkets and pharmacies struggling without staff.

Anxious residents have emptied supermarkets ahead of expected compulsory mass COVID-19 tests, with many shelves left bare for over a week.

Many businesses including restaurants and stores have shuttered, with main districts notably quiet and few residents outside on the streets.

The city has implemented its most stringent restrictions since the pandemic started in 2020, with a ban on public gatherings of more than two people and most venues closed. Flights into the city are banned from most countries, including the United States and Britain.

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