Chinese construction company builds COVID facilities in virus-hit Hong Kong

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HONG KONG, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Hong Kong has contracted mainland firm China State Construction International Holdings Ltd (3311.HK) to build eight isolation and treatment facilities to help the global financial hub fight a worsening COVID-19 outbreak to help, the government said.

The temporary facilities, with a total capacity of 50,000 beds, will be spread across Hong Kong, including on private land loaned by developers free of charge.

The move follows a promise of “strong support” from authorities in mainland China, with city leader Carrie Lam doubling down on the official target of reducing infections to zero.

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Authorities are expected to report a new record of about 10,000 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, up from 8,798 on Thursday, broadcaster TVB reported, citing an unidentified source. University of Hong Kong researchers predict new infections could peak over the next month at 180,000 a day.

“The goal is to maximize the utilization of the site and complete the related works as soon as possible to equip Hong Kong to fight the epidemic,” the government said in a statement late Thursday.

Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016.HK), New World Development (0017.HK) and Henderson Land Development (0012.HK) are among the developers who have contributed to the program.

Reuters reported in September that Beijing had given the Chinese-ruled city’s powerful real estate magnates a new mandate, telling them to use resources and influence to support Beijing’s interests. Continue reading

Hong Kong is pursuing mainland China’s “dynamic zero-COVID” strategy, which aims to eradicate all outbreaks at all costs, but the spread of infections with the highly transmissible Omicron variant this year has overwhelmed the city’s healthcare system.

This week, Lam used emergency powers granted under British colonial-era laws to exempt mainland Chinese employees and projects from any licensing or other legal requirements.

As COVID rages across Hong Kong at the start of a sensitive political year for Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing is heavily invested in the city’s response to the crisis. Continue reading

Over the past week, since Xi told the city his “overriding mission” is to control the deepening crisis, Hong Kong has stepped up anti-COVID measures, including plans for mass testing to be carried out by mainland-based equipment, test vehicles and personnel be supported.

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Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Jane Wardell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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