As Hong Kong hospitals struggle with the surging numbers of new COVID-19 cases, China state-run media report Chinese President Xi Jinping has told city leaders that bringing the situation under control should be their highest priority.
Wednesday’s edition of the state-run Wen Wei Po newspaper reported that “General Secretary Xi Jinping” — through Vice Premier Han Zheng — sent important instructions to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to regard “immediate control of the epidemic as the overriding task at present.”
Such direct public instructions by Xi are rare. Chinese University of Hong Kong political professor Vivian Zhan told the Bloomberg news agency that the Chinese leader is clearly growing impatient with the Hong Kong government’s handling of the pandemic.
The newspaper also reported that Han Zheng instructed “relevant central departments” to provide Hong Kong with medical supplies, including testing kits, medical treatments, assistance in building community isolation and treatment facilities, ensuring the supply of fresh food and other daily necessities, and sending epidemic prevention experts to Hong Kong.
The city is facing its worst outbreak of the pandemic, topping 2,000 new COVID-19 cases each day this week. Local media reports say Hong Kong health officials have confirmed a record 4,285 new infections Wednesday, and another 7,000 preliminary positive cases.
Reports Wednesday say the city’s health care facilities are beginning to overflow, forcing the Caritas Medical Center to treat some patients in beds outside the building. The city government has already instituted strict rules banning gatherings of more than two households.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.