Mortuaries under pressure as HK hits new Covid record

Health officials said on Sunday that the bodies of some Covid patients remained at public hospitals because mortuaries were close to full capacity. The bottleneck formed as Hong Kong reported another daily record for new coronavirus cases, with the tally coming in at 26,026 and 83 deaths.

All but seven of the new infections were locally transmitted.

“The trend is, it’s still increasing. We foresee the number of confirmed cases will continue to rise. So the situation is quite serious, currently,” the Centre for Health Protection’s Albert Au told a press conference.

He said the government needed a few days to build a website for people who’ve tested positive on Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits to report their infections.

The patients who died were aged 19 to 100, with 77 of them being elderly people. Thirteen of the patients who passed away had received one to three jabs, with the rest being unvaccinated.

Among the fatalities, both the 19-year-old and another, who had received a booster, had chronic illnesses. The teenager lived in a care home.

Health officials also announced the deaths of a further 27 patients, which occurred between February 23 and 25 but had yet to be reported.

Au said in recent days, public mortuaries have been operating at close to full capacity, and workers have been trying hard to move bodies quicker.

A chief manager of the Hospital Authority, Lau Ka-hin, said with more people dying due to Covid and the colder weather, there’s been a bottleneck in the handling of bodies.

He noted it’s required by law that an autopsy be done on patients who died before they reached hospital or after brief resuscitation.

“At this moment, we face a problem of transportation of dead bodies from hospital to public mortuary. That’s why there are some bodies who were initially planned to be transported to public mortuary, but stayed in hospital,” he said.

“We tried our best to put the bodies in our hospital mortuary, but some of them may be kept in A&E department because they’ll be transported to the public mortuary.”

Lau said officials are discussing ways to speed up body transportation.

Officials also said that another 66 care homes reported infections, involving around 680 people.

In the current Omicron wave, more than 3,200 staff and residents of care homes have come down with Covid.

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USEFUL LINKS
General Covid-19 situation: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/
Covid-19 testing: https://www.communitytest.gov.hk/en/
Advice for Covid patients: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/pending-admission.html
Community Clinics for Covid-19 patients: https://bit.ly/35nnudX
Recognised Rapid Antigen Test kits: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/rat/eng/rat.html
Vaccination programme: https://www.covidvaccine.gov.hk/en/
Vaccination pass scheme: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/vaccine-pass.html
Hotline for Covid-positive patients: 1836 115