Officials in Hong Kong warned the city could see exponential growth in Covid infections as the number of untraceable cases continues to rise, potentially overwhelming the health care system.
The Asian financial hub reported 31 unlinked infections among 142 new cases on Thursday, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Center for Health Protection, said during a daily press conference. Of those, 121 were local cases. Another 160 preliminary positive cases were detected.
The virus also made its way into a home for the elderly, putting dozens of high-risk senior citizens in harm’s way, after two staff members tested positive. More than 60 residents from the center were being evacuated and sent to quarantine.
“We are rather concerned that we will be seeing more and more cases, hundreds or even more cases, and that may be a burden for our health care system,” said Chuang, who asked residents to stay at home as much as possible while the virus is circulating.
Chuang said the rising number of untraceable cases signifies “severe community transmission.” The government will closely monitor the situation, and will announce further measures to contain it as appropriate, she said.
The city’s current pandemic measures aren’t sufficient to control the outbreak, said Leung Chi-chiu, a respiratory expert and former chairman of the Hong Kong Medical Association’s advisory committee on communicable diseases, told RTHK, a local media outlet. The city has “no hope” of stamping the fifth wave of outbreak if there isn’t a downward trend in untraceable cases, he said.