HONG KONG - China will fully support Hong Kong with its "dynamic zero" coronavirus strategy, its office overseeing matters in the city said, as the territory is expected to hit a new record for daily infections on Friday.
The global financial hub will report at least 1,325 new coronavirus cases on Friday, broadcaster TVB reported, a new record after infections doubled to a 1,161 cases on Wednesday.
The central government was "highly concerned" about the safety and health of residents as well as the economy and people's livelihoods, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), which comes under China's State Council or cabinet, said in a statement.
It said it would hold a meeting of mainland and Hong Kong officials in neighbouring Shenzhen "in the near future" to "maintain stability" and come up with policies to support Hong Kong's fight against the disease.
"As long as Hong Kong asks, the motherland will surely respond ... Hand in hand, we will surely be able to overcome the epidemic soon," it said.
The Chinese government will help improve Hong Kong's testing capability and set up another quarantine facility, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a Beijing-based source.
The mainland is also preparing to send thousands of medical and lab workers and millions of testing kits to Hong Kong, with the daily coronavirus screening capacity to be increased from 100,000 tests to 3000,000 tests.
Hong Kong has seen a 10-fold rise in cases since Feb. 1 and medical experts warn the city could see 28,000 daily infections by the end of March, with the unvaccinated elderly a particular worry.
The increase is proving to be the biggest test for Hong Kong's policy of virus suppression as capacity for hospital beds, isolation and coronavirus testing nears its maximum.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to test every day, including elderly and children, queuing for hours in tightly packed lines outside testing centres and raising the risk of infection.
Following mainland China, Hong Kong is trying to curb outbreaks as soon as possible, in contrast with many other places that are trying to "live with COVID", relying on high vaccination rates to bring protection while easing restrictions.
The city's stringent restrictions have turned it into one of the world's most major isolated cities.
The HKMAO said it was also actively coordinating with the Guangdong provincial government to ensure the supply of vegetables, fresh food and other necessities into Hong Kong.
The former British colony saw a run on vegetables this week after several cross-border truck drivers, who bring in goods from the mainland, tested positive for coronavirus.
China previously assisted the city in 2020 with a mass coronavirus testing scheme when it sent 600 people to operate lab facilities and tested nearly 2 million of the city's 7.5 million residents.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said this week said she was deeply sorry and anxious for the long waits residents faced to get tested or enter isolation facilities. She said last week she had requested help from mainland China to boost testing capacity.
(Additional reporting by Marius Zaharia and Joyce Zhou; Editing by Stephen Coates and Lincoln Feast.) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +852 3462 7709;))