China records the first deaths from the Corona virus in more than a year

credit…Billy HC Cook for The New York Times

Hong Kong said more than 1 million people in the city of 7.5 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the epidemic, a worrying milestone for a city being hit by the unusually deadly omicron wave.

Hong Kong health officials said at a press conference on Friday that they recorded 20,082 new cases per day and 206 new deaths, bringing the cumulative total to more than 1,010 thousand cases and more than 5,000 deaths.

New cases reported per day

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated from the data reported in the past seven days.

While other places in Asia such as China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam witness Similar state waves driven by OmicronThe death rate in Hong Kong is high, far exceeding that of China, which has reported a total of about 4,600 deaths in a population of more than 1.4 billion. Government data shows that nearly 95 percent of deaths in the city have occurred in the past 30 days.

Hong Kong was once seen as a global leader in controlling the coronavirus crisis. But despite restrictions on public gatherings, restrictions on eating at night and mandates for masks, a wave of Omicron cases that began late last year has overwhelmed the health care system, resulting in Bodies of the dead are piling up in hospitals.

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In the past two weeks, Hong Kong has recorded about 65 per cent of the cases it has ever been exposed to, Show government data. Experts said that number is likely an underestimate. Using models and researchers in University of Hong Kong This week it was estimated that at least 3.6 million people had been infected. They added that up to 4.5 million people could contract the virus before the current outbreak ends.

the outbreak Includes variant BA.2 of Omicron, which is more transmissible than the first version of Omicron, BA.1, although not necessarily more ferocious. Researchers in Britain and Denmark have found that BA.2 is not likely to cause hospitalization, but studies elsewhere are ongoing.

Other factors in Hong Kong’s rush are also at play: the city is densely populated and has Low vaccination rate among those 70 or older in nursing homes. And its success in keeping the virus at bay until recently has left many residents without any boosted immunity.

The Hong Kong government is caught between a rising number of cases and deaths, pressure from Beijing for testing and a mass lockdown, and epidemiological fatigue among the population. On Thursday, the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said at a press conference that it would raise a review of its current measures planned for April 20 to as soon as next week and reconsider flight bans, mandatory testing and mandatory quarantines for travelers. . “I have a strong feeling that people’s tolerance is fading,” she said.

Officials said Hong Kong’s case data included results from rapid antigen tests, which the government has approved instead of PCR results since last month to expand testing capacity. Populations who tested positive with rapid antigen tests did not have to obtain confirmation using PCR tests. But the government has also asked them to report their injuries themselves, or face legal consequences. Officials said that those who receive a positive result from a rapid antigen test can randomly request to be given a PCR test.

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At a press conference on Friday, Ms Lam stressed the need to report home tests to health authorities. “If there are people blatantly refusing to comply, is it the law enforcement body’s duty to do something?” She said.

Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which provided the raw numbers for Our world in data And the New York timesThe coronavirus world map has reported fewer cases than the Hong Kong government.

New cases reported per day

Source: Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The daily average is calculated from the data reported in the past seven days.

The difference is because the center did not include the city’s rapid antigen test results in its total, but in an email on Friday, it said it plans to incorporate them in the future.

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