China sends team to Hong Kong to do widespread coronavirus testing
HONG KONG: Seven Chinese health officials were due to arrive in Hong Kong yesterday, the first members of a 60-person team that will carry out widespread testing for Covid-19 in the global financial hub as it races to halt a third wave of the illness.
The city recorded 125 new cases on Saturday, the 11th day in a row above 100, with total infection numbers rising to 3,396. The death toll has risen to 31.
China's National Health Commission on Saturday announced the team's scheduled arrival.
Members of the team are from public hospitals in Guangdong province, while a specialist team of six from Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus first appeared, will help prepare part of the AsiaWorld-Expo convention centre as a facility for Covid-19 patients.
The initiative is the first time mainland health officials have assisted Hong Kong in its battle to control the coronavirus.
Some local residents fear China may use this as an excuse to collect DNA samples for surveillance purposes.
Leader Carrie Lam said on Saturday the former British colony asked for help because of the resurgence in cases.
She said the government was studying whether everyone in Hong Kong could be tested, local broadcaster RTHK reported on Saturday.
Hong Kong introduced a raft of tightening measures including restricting gatherings to two people and mandating face masks in all outdoor public spaces.
Beijing recently imposed a security law that critics say undermines Hong Kong's autonomy.
In a separate development, China reported 49 cases of the new coronavirus in the mainland for Aug 1, up from 45 cases a day earlier, the health commission said yesterday.
Of the new infections, 30 were in the far western region of Xinjiang, three were in the north-eastern province of Liaoning, and the remaining 16 were imported cases, according to a statement by the National Health Commission.
China also reported 20 new asymptomatic cases, down from 23 a day earlier.
As of the end of Saturday, mainland China had 84,385 confirmed coronavirus cases, the health authority said.
The Covid-19 death toll remained at 4,634. - REUTERS