Care homes unhappy with Covid warning letters

A care home trade representative said on Friday the industry feels hard done by after 129 facilities received warning letters from the government for failing to report daily Covid infections to the authorities.

Under a new rule, all 1,100 elderly and disabled homes in Hong Kong are required to report every day even if there are no infections, and they were issued reminders by the Social Welfare Department a month ago to do so.

Care homes have been hit hard during the Omicron outbreak, with many residents and staff coming down with Covid-19.

An executive committee member of the Elderly Services Association, Grace Li, said operators have been very busy and may have missed the reminders, among other e-mails from the authorities.

She said the authorities could have communicated better with care homes before sending them warning letters.

Li also spoke about what she sees as a lack of government support at the height of the outbreak, and a tough penalty for the trade now for failing to comply with the new rule.

“Our members’ thinking is that, if the government is so quick and so efficient with the warning letters, then during the pandemic it should also be this quick with providing us with N95 masks and protective gear. That would be about right,” she said on an RTHK programme.

Li noted that homes have to show the warning letters on their website for a year, which she said has a labelling effect. She said the trade is in talks with officials, seeking an exemption.