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20,000 hotel rooms in Hong Kong earmarked for quarantine as COVID-19 cases surge

20,000 hotel rooms in Hong Kong earmarked for quarantine as COVID-19 cases surge

FILE PHOTO: A sign is seen inside a quarantine hotel, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Hong Kong, on Aug 30, 2021. Picture August 30, 2021.(Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong has identified more than 20,000 hotel rooms for quarantine accommodation, leader Carrie Lam said on Friday (Feb 18), as property developers piled in to support the global financial hub's battle to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Lam said 21 hotels had expressed interest in turning their facilities into isolation venues, exceeding "by a large margin the government's original target of 7,000 to 10,000 rooms".

Quarantine facilities in Hong Kong have reached capacity and hospital beds are more than 90 per cent full as cases spiral, with some patients, including elderly, left lying on beds outside in chilly, sometimes rainy weather.

The moves come as Hong Kong authorities report new cases have multiplied 60 times so far this month, and after Chinese President Xi Jinping said the city's "overriding mission" was to stabilise and control the outbreak.

Mobile testing vehicles from mainland China arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday, part of measures to help the city boost testing, authorities said.

Hong Kong is expected to report at least 3,600 new infections on Friday, with another 7,600 preliminary positive cases, local broadcaster TVB said, citing an unidentified source.

CK Asset Holdings, owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing, said it would provide more than 3,000 hotel rooms in four hotels. Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) said late on Thursday it could provide 1,000 rooms in two hotels for isolation facilities and would broadcast a government promotional video on vaccine passports in its major malls.

New World Development said it planned to provide around 700 rooms, while Henderson Land Development said its founding Lee family would donate HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) to send anti-epidemic materials to elderly homes, among others.

The moves come as Hong Kong authorities report new cases have multiplied 60 times so far this month, and after Chinese President Xi Jinping said the city's "overriding mission" was to stabilise and control the outbreak.

"President Xi Jinping’s important instructions to support Hong Kong's fight against the epidemic, and mobilisation of relevant central departments to help Hong Kong, have given a confidence boost to all Hong Kong people," SHKP Chairman Raymond Kwok said in a statement late on Thursday.

Reuters reported in September that Beijing had given a new mandate to the global financial hub's powerful property tycoons, telling them to pour resources and influence into backing Beijing's interests.

The government said the Dorsett Tsuen Wan hotel in the city's northern New Territories region would provide accommodation from Friday for people who tested positive for COVID-19 but had no or mild symptoms.

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Source: Reuters/ga
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