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Friday, Mar 24, 2023

'Too soon to see Covid as no worse than flu'

'Too soon to see Covid as no worse than flu'

It is too early to assume Covid-19 will become a common flu and people should not let their guard down now, former health chief
Ko Wing-man said yesterday.

This came as authorities said around 98 percent of those who died from Covid were not fully vaccinated.

Ko, now an Executive Council member, said he has not seen a "definite conclusion for the wave to reach its peak within this month," after several experts made the prediction.

"Of course, everybody wishes that it could, but there is a further need to analyze the data and to see the trend in the next one or two weeks before we can say clearly whether the wave is going to peak this month or the next," he said.

The public, he said, must stay alert at heightened levels or the community will pay a steep price.

It's not appropriate for the SAR to cancel anti-epidemic measures for now, he said, adding "will there be some new variants with both high transmissibility and lethality like SARS? We don't know so we cannot assume the Covid-19 pandemic will become a common flu."

The number of daily hospital admissions has risen from 1,000 early last month to 3,000 now, putting the public medical system under severe pressure and making more relaxation of social distancing measures unlikely for him.

Likely though is the government's lowering of the age limit for the vaccine pass to five years old to protect children and prevent their deaths.

If children do not have a smartphone, they can carry paper vaccination records to enter restaurants and other premises, he said.

Hong Kong yesterday saw 10,683 cases - 10,490 local infections and 193 imported cases, as well as eight deaths.

The Centre for Health Protection's principal medical and health officer, Albert Au Ka-wing, said caseloads have been increasing rapidly since mid last month.

Sewage samples from various districts showed the viral count has risen to fifth-wave peaks in March.

Au also said 70 percent of those who fell victim to Covid were not vaccinated at all.

A total of 9,511 patients died in the fifth wave and 96 percent of them were aged 60 or above.

Of these, 86.6 percent were not vaccinated or only got one jab, while the death rate for those with three and four doses is just 0.14 percent and 0.04 percent.

From today, visitors at care homes must hold a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours, including those who have recovered over the past three months.

They can take free tests at community test centers and mobile test stations. Care home staff have had to take a PCR test every other day since Friday.

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