HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong’s cumulative coronavirus infections have exceeded 1 million as the city struggles with a widespread outbreak that has killed more people than the reported COVID-19 deaths across mainland China.
Health authorities reported 20,079 confirmed infections on Friday, bringing the total number since the start of the pandemic to 1,016,944.
Nearly 97% of them came from Hong Kong’s current wave, which began in December. Since February 9, nearly 5,200 people have died from the virus.
The total number of deaths in Hong Kong – 5,401 – has exceeded the 4,636 deaths recorded on the Chinese mainland. Mainland authorities have reported 126,234 confirmed cases, but unlike most countries, China does not include asymptomatic cases in the confirmed number.
The city of 7.4 million is in the grip of an omicron rise that has strained its healthcare system as hospitals reached maximum capacity. Coffins are running out, and morgues are so full that the corpses must be temporarily stored in refrigerated containers.
Most of those killed were elderly patients, the majority of whom have not been fully vaccinated.
For most of the pandemic, Hong Kong was able to eradicate previous outbreaks with harsh “zero COVID” restrictions that temporarily shut down businesses, restricted public assemblies and imposed access restrictions such as long-term arrivals quarantines and flight bans from high-risk countries. .
That changed with the highly portable omicron variant. Officials have sought assistance from mainland China, which has sent experts and medical resources to help Hong Kong fight the pandemic.