Patients left outside hospitals now moved indoors: HA

The chief executive of the Hospital Authority, Tony Ko, said on Saturday that most Covid patients waiting for admission outside public hospitals have now been moved indoors or to other isolation facilities.

Patients had been forced to spend hours in the cold outside emergency rooms, after a surge of Covid infections led to overcrowding in hospitals.

Speaking on an RTHK radio show, Dr Ko apologised for such an undesirable situation.

He said authorities might have moved waiting patients indoors for now, but the situation could happen again if many Covid patients rushed to hospitals over a short space of time.

Dr Ko urged patients with mild symptoms to stay home and call a designated hotline if they had questions, or to seek treatment at designated public clinics.

He said moving Covid patients into freed-up space inside hospitals is not desirable, but it is a reasonable arrangement.

“In some of the cases, we arrange for patients to be temporarily located in some of the premises – like some of our break halls, out-patient areas, day patient areas or sometimes even in the physiotherapy gymnasium. In this type of settings, there is reasonable space and ventilation,” he said.

Dr Ko was also asked whether public hospitals would be able to handle all the patients found in future citywide testing exercises, planned by the government.

He said citywide Covid testing was a very important strategy to control the epidemic.

“We know that doing such a big exercise is not an easy task and we need corresponding actions both upstream and downstream,”

“The government, ourselves and different departments, are actively looking into different operational details, which I believe will be consolidated and communicated with the people of Hong Kong very soon,” Dr Ko said.

Meanwhile, one of the Centre for Health Protection’s advisors called on private hospitals to take in some Covid patients, as public hospitals were overwhelmed.

Edmund Lam, from the Scientific Committee on Vaccine Preventable Diseases, told reporters after appearing on a radio programme that the government could give incentives to private institutions.

He said some medics working in the private sector were willing to help, and arrangements could be made for them to vaccinate people or work in isolation hotels.