HONG KONG: Hong Kong authorities said they would allow some children testing positive for COVID-19 to remain at home, rather than being separated from their parents and hospitalised, after a public outcry from families across the city.
Some Hong Kong families had despaired over strict COVID-19 rules that saw even toddlers in some cases taken away from their parents and isolated, prompting some families to leave the city.
Hong Kong long had an enviable record in suppressing the coronavirus with a “dynamic zero” COVID-19 policy, in line with that on mainland China.
But as an Omicron wave now overwhelms the city, the steps that saved lives are making life unbearable for many of its 7.4 million people.
Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority told Reuters late on Friday (Feb 25) that not all COVID-19-positive children would be required to go to hospital.
“In general, confirmed children in stable condition can rest at home. If there is medical need for hospitalisation, they will be arranged to receive treatment and care in the paediatric isolation facilities in public hospitals,” the authority said in a statement.
It said it would seek to allow parents or caregivers who also test positive to enter the same wards, but that this might not always be possible given “seriously overloaded” paediatric isolation facilities in public hospitals.
The clarification comes as the city announced a record 10,000 daily cases on Friday, with some experts predicting 180,000 cases per day in March.
As it battles the surge in cases, Hong Kong has scrambled to further ramp up its construction of isolation and treatment facilities.
Local hospitals have been inundated with new cases. Universal testing is to be rolled out later with support from China.