A new community isolation facility in Hong Kong to house younger and healthier Covid-19 patients will be launched on Friday, as authorities also revealed plans to convert part of a major exhibition venue into a treatment centre to ease pressure on the city’s public hospitals.
Dr Larry Lee Lap-yip, the Hospital Authority’s expert in charge of the facilities, said on Thursday that the first batch of 350 units at Lei Yue Mun Park and Holiday Village in Chai Wan would be up and running in a day.
Amid a third wave of coronavirus infections battering the city, the site is expected to take in about 30 patients from the city’s strained health care system on its first day of operations.
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Those who are under the age of 50, with no symptoms or only mild ones and who are capable of looking after themselves, could be ferried by paramedics from their respective hospitals to the new facility, which will be run by 23 nurses and six doctors in an initial phase, according to Lee.
“Patients have to have their fever down for more than 48 hours. They need to be mobile and in good health. They should also not have any long-term disease or diarrhoea,” added the deputy chief executive at Tin Shui Wai Hospital.
Lee also said part of the AsiaWorld-Expo, an exhibition centre near the airport currently used to hold incoming travellers waiting for Covid-19 test results, could possibly be transformed into a treatment facility. But he said the plan was not yet cast in stone. He did not reveal details on treatments to be provided.
On Thursday, the daily infection count hit a new record of 118, setting a high for the second day running, with the 15th patient dying. The city’s overall tally stood at 2,249 with 15 related deaths.
This came after Hong Kong detected 113 new infections on Wednesday.
The third wave of the coronavirus infections, which began about two weeks ago, has put immense pressure on the Hong Kong’s public hospitals, pushing the occupancy rate of isolation wards and beds to more than 70 per cent.
Lee said the Lei Yue Mun facilities would have two wings, one capable of housing 230 patients, and 120 for the other. Patients from the hospitals would be transferred there after passing medical assessments, he said.
The site was chosen because it was designed with individual modules, each with its own built-in bathroom. “It is also far away from the community,” Lee said of the 22.97-hectare venue located a 30-minute walk away from Shau Kei Wan MTR station.
But he said if patients experienced worsening conditions during their stay, which was unlikely, or ran into accidents, they could be sent immediately to the nearby Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.
Six doctors would be serving the site on rotation between 9am to 5pm. But the hours are expected to extend to between 8am and 8pm later, according to Lee.
Chief nursing officer of the Hospital Authority Dr Leung Ming said the initial 23-strong team deployed there was expected to double in size.
Nurses, who will check on patients using video conference technology every morning, will man the site around the clock, although the overnight shift will be reduced to two members. They will also coach patients to measure their own temperature and blood pressure, the results of which would be sent automatically to dashboards in a work zone.
Asked about the progress of the possible new facility at AsiaWorld-Expo, Lee said: “It is not necessarily a CIF [community isolation facility] as far as the AsiaWorld-Expo is concerned. It is likely to be what we call a CTF – community treatment facility. If needed, we will handle those who are sent there directly from the community after they have been diagnosed.
“That’s because we know some people are younger, and may not have symptoms. Even if they have symptoms, they are mild. We can handle them directly with treatments. This is the direction we are going,” he said, adding that plans were yet to be finalised.
The city’s health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee said last week that the authorities were inspecting the site and moving in beds and furniture, with one hall possibly ready by the end of this week.
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More from South China Morning Post:
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