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Asia Minute: Hong Kong is dealing with a new level of crisis as some hospital patients sleep outside

coronavirus Outbreak Hong Kong Feb 16 2022
Vincent Yu/AP
Patients lie on hospital beds as they wait at a temporary holding area outside Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb.16, 2022. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hospitalization numbers related to the pandemic continue to drop in Hawaiʻi, but they are still rising in some locations — including parts of Asia. One of the most dramatic situations is taking place in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong hospitals have gotten so crowded, that some patients are now spending the night outside in tents —and in some cases on the sidewalk.

City officials say quarantine facilities are at their limit and hospitals have reached 90% capacity.

In the working-class neighborhood of Sham Shui Po, Agence France Presse said entire families have been crammed into tents designed to hold a single bed — while some 50 other patients were simply wheeled outside on their beds.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong hit a record of nearly 4,300 new COVID-19 cases — by Thursday the count was 40% higher — a new record of more than 6,100 new cases.

Covid patients are now being discharged from hospitals earlier — those with mild symptoms can be released after a week.

Hong Kong’s government has asked hotels to set aside as many as 10,000 rooms to quarantine patients.

A particular concern: the elderly population.

The government says that only 43% of those aged 70 to 79 are vaccinated.

For those over the age of 80, only 26% are vaccinated.

A team of epidemiologists arrived in Hong Kong from mainland China on Thursday to review the city’s response to the latest spike in the virus.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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