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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Hong Kong’s new Covid-19 cases hit 20,000 mark, reaching level last seen in March

Hong Kong’s new Covid-19 cases hit 20,000 mark, reaching level last seen in March

Health officials report 20,252 infections, 924 of which are imported, and 46 additional deaths.

Hong Kong’s daily coronavirus cases passed the 20,000 mark on Friday, a figure not seen since March, as residents continued to snap up pain-relief and fever medicine, leaving shelves empty at pharmacies and vulnerable residents in distress.

Health officials reported 20,252 new coronavirus cases, 924 of which were imported, and 46 additional deaths, bringing the city’s tally to 2,442,195 cases and 11,373 fatalities.

The city logged 21,650 infections on March 17, the month the city’s fifth wave of Covid-19 reached its peak. On March 9, authorities recorded 58,757 cases.

Pain-relief and fever medicine is disappearing from pharmacies in Sham Shui Po.

Many residents have been scrambling to get pain-relief and fever medicine in recent weeks, including those hoping to send them to friends and relatives in mainland China, which is experiencing a surge in infections.

Ivan Lin Wai-kiu, a community organiser at the Society for Community Organization (SoCO), said underprivileged residents in Sham Shui Po, one of Hong Kong’s poorest districts, were hit hard by a recent surge in flu cases, as many were unable to book a doctor’s appointment at government clinics or buy medicine from pharmacies.

“Some are very sick and have to see a doctor, but they could not [book an appointment],” Lin said. “We tried our best to help them with the booking. Some will have to wait for a week to see a doctor, and by then they will have already recovered.”

He urged authorities to increase clinic services by offering more time slots for bookings to ensure the most vulnerable could get timely treatment and medicine.

Lin added that SoCO was giving out Panadol donated by pharmaceutical companies earlier in the year, but their stock was running low, with just half a box left.

Sze Lai-shan, the group’s deputy director, said some residents had been helping each other by giving pain-relieving and fever medicine to neighbours in need.

A Post visit to several pharmacies and drugstores in Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui, Sai Ying Pun and Sham Shui Po found they had run out of Panadol, while only some still had Fortune Coltalin, another product containing paracetamol. The supply of lesser-known local brands such as Lysomol was abundant.

“These [lesser-known] drugs work just as well as Panadol. These are all fever medicines,” a staff member at a pharmacy in Sham Shui Po said.

Lam Wai-man, chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Pharmacy, said stocks of Panadol and Fortune Coltalin had been depleted due to the surge in demand.

“Most customers are not buying the drugs for themselves. That’s why they are very picky, but they all work just the same,” he said. “Even though pharmacists would recommend the lesser-known brands, most customers would simply say no and continue to look for Panadol.”

A government spokesman on Thursday urged the public not to stockpile medicine, including those containing paracetamol, saying the supply for a specific brand of fever and pain-relief drugs on the market was tight, but stock for others was sufficient.

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