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Friday, Jun 21, 2024

Covid surge leaves docs in short supply

Covid surge leaves docs in short supply

Doctors warned yesterday they do not have enough oral Covid drugs, as cases surged over the past two weeks.
Chan Pui-kwong, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Doctors Union, said that the number of patients seeking attention for Covid infections at private clinics has surged from about two per day in March, to up to 10 a day over the past two weeks.

Chan said doctors can only get six courses of treatment from authorities each time upon request - usually delivered after a day - but there is no time limit between each request.

"Private doctors can prescribe the Covid drug according to patients' symptoms to prevent lack of inventory," Chan said.

"The government website on Covid-19 has a list of clinics that prescribe the drugs. Doctors can refer patients to other clinics that have sufficient stock in cases of shortage," he added.

He suggested patients seek help from public facilities on weekdays and utilize the government's TeleHealth service to lower the risk of transmission.

Meanwhile, the city recorded 286 Covid-19 infections yesterday, along with one death.

That came as four medical associations urged people to get vaccinated against pneumococcus, warning that illnesses caused by the bacterium can be serious in young children and the elderly.

A Public Opinion Research Institute poll - commissioned by the Geriatrics Society, Society for Infectious Diseases, Pediatrics Society and the Society for Paediatric Immunology Allergy and Infectious Diseases - found that some 80 percent of respondents have not been vaccinated against the bacterium, while only 20 percent intend to do so.

The poll was conducted from March 2 to 8 and took in 3,600 respondents.

More than 60 percent believed they were not included in high-risk groups, with 20 and 40 percent among them having young children and elderly family members. The associations said the results reflected a lack of awareness of the disease. They also urged the government to include the pneumococcal vaccine in the Vaccination Subsidy Scheme.

Pneumococcus infections can range from ear and chest infections to brain membrane inflammations.

Infectious disease expert Ivan Hung Fan-ngai said pneumococcal infections are increasing. But currently used vaccines don't target the serotype 3 pneumococcal disease - the most common pneumococcus infection type in the city - Hung said, urging the government to adopt more suitable vaccines to combat the specific serotype.

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