We need more help from the mainland: HA chief

The chairman of the Hospital Authority, Henry Fan, said on Friday that he hopes the central government will send at least 1,000 medical staff to the city to help fight the Covid-19 outbreak.

He made the call in an interview with the Global Times, after the government gazetted emergency laws to waive licensing and registration requirements for mainland medical personnel involved in anti-epidemic work in Hong Kong.

Fan said the city’s healthcare system and medical workers have been overwhelmed by the surge in Covid infections, and the situation might only be solved if there’s a large medical team deployed from the mainland.

The hospital chief added that the authority is considering following the mainland’s example in subjecting some medical staff to “closed-loop management” to better protect them.

Fan said he hopes makeshift hospitals and isolation facilities currently under construction can operate as soon as possible, but said more of these facilities will have to be built to meet the rising number of infections.

On the government’s citywide testing programme planned for March, Fan said he understands that Guangdong authorities have agreed to send around 1,000 staff to help with the testing.

He added that unlike the mainland’s health code, the LeaveHomeSafe app does not have any tracking functions, which has made it more difficult for authorities to trace new infections.

Fan said he hopes Hong Kong will use big data technology to track infections in future.