Hong Kong Says 20,000 Hotel Rooms Earmarked for Quarantine as COVID Cases Surge

Hong Kong Says 20,000 Hotel Rooms Earmarked for Quarantine as COVID Cases Surge
(AP)

Hong Kong has identified more than 20,000 hotel rooms for quarantine accommodation, leader Carrie Lam said on Friday, as property developers piled in to show support as the global financial hub battles 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% full as cases spiral, with some patients, including elderly, left 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 stabilize 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 it could provide 1,000 rooms. Both developers said they would broadcast a government promotional video on vaccine passports in its major malls.

"President Xi Jinping’s important instructions to support Hong Kong's fight against the epidemic, and mobilization 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.

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

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 starting on Friday for people who tested positive for COVID-19 but had no or mild symptoms.

($1 = 7.7987 Hong Kong dollars)


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