Hong Kong launches new COVID-19 special program for residential care homes

Hong Kong launches new COVID-19 special program for residential care homes

This undated file photo shows a caregiver attending to a senior citizen at a care home in Hong Kong. EDMOND TANG CHINA DAILY HONG KONG Hong Kong s health authorities launched a new round of outreach vaccine service special program for residential care homes RCHs with medical teams visiting RCHs at least once a week to provide COVID 19 and seasonal influenza vaccine services.

The move came after the government noticed a rise in the number of COVID 19 cases among residents and staff members of residential care homes as well as the number of hospitalization cases of infected elderly.

READ MORE: HK s COVID caseload dips to 8.9 K as 16 more die.

In seven days, the number of care homes reporting cases went up by more than 20 percent compared to the previous week, according to the government.

The proportion of infected elderly RCH residents among hospitalization cases has gone up by nearly 10 percent compared to the previous week, while the fourth dose vaccine rate of care home residents is only around 11 percent.

The government launched a new special program that will last for four weeks in response to the recent volatile COVID 19 epidemic and the impending winter surge of influenza, with a view to strengthen the protection barrier for the care homes.

Adult residents who have not been infected with COVID 19 should receive the fourth dose at least 90 days after receiving the third dose, according to experts.

The government will provide a special allowance for the visiting registered medical practitioners and outreach medical teams to cover the additional manpower and transportation costs involved in the special program.

The previous round of the special program was conducted from the end of July to the end of September.

An elderly man receives his first dose of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a community vaccination center in Hong Kong on February 25, 2022. KIN CHEUNG AP Medical teams had performed more than 4,300 visits to residential care homes and administered more than 34,000 doses of the COVID 19 vaccine to residents.

The first, second and third dose vaccine rates at RCHs have increased significantly from the original 93 percent, 87 percent and 40 percent to 95 percent, 93 percent and 78 percent.

A government spokesman said that receiving COVID 19 vaccination is safe and highly effective in reducing the risks of severe cases and deaths for RCH residents in case of infection.

The proportion of infected RCH residents is on the rise, but it remains at a relatively low level, according to the spokesman.