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Tuesday, Jun 28, 2022

Care homes pushed into loop to keep virus at bay

Care homes pushed into loop to keep virus at bay

Workers across some 80 uninfected care homes are strongly advised to enter a closed-loop management system to protect the elderly, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong has said.
The government yesterday announced the arrangement would be implemented in facilities for the elderly and disabled, with staff being provided designated hotel accommodation and transport to their workplaces, isolating them from the community and thereby reducing the chances of their bringing the coronavirus into care homes.

Law also suggested care homes use empty beds, vacant activity rooms or even set up shipping containers to house employees to live in for the time being.

He said authorities have sought two newly made care homes in a "reverse quarantine" process for the uninfected.

So far, 725 out of 810 elderly homes have been hit by fifth-wave infections affecting 22,070 residents and 5,880 staff, while 248 disabled homes have seen 5,900 residents and 2,220 carers infected.

At least 1,728 deaths in the fifth wave involved care-home residents, with the majority being seniors.

Law said around 30 of the 1,000 mainland carers recruited to support Hong Kong care homes have reported for duty. The second batch of workers are expected to start work in a few days.

Authorities on Wednesday vowed to vaccinate all elderly home residents with at least one Covid jab by March 18.

Infectious disease expert Ho Pak-leung from the University of Hong Kong called on authorities to carry out second-jab vaccinations on the elderly by April 8, with the third by July 8.

"Employees who have received both doses must also get booster shots three months after their second jab, and it's best for them to choose the BioNTech vaccine," he added.

Separately, another HKU expert Ivan Hung Fan-ngai said elderly home residents become weaker upon contracting the Omicron variant. "It affects their swallowing of food and induces aspiration pneumonia, bringing the virus into the lung and triggering even more serious pneumonia symptoms."
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