March 3, 2022
BEIJING – Hong Kong needs to take more advantage of technologies in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as the city races against time to contain the raging fifth wave, said David Lam Tzit-yuen, Legislative Council member for Medical and Health Services.
Hong Kong has been relying on manual work in the epidemiological investigation of potential patients, a big difference from the mainland where big data is used to help with medical tracking, he said.
The government should consider developing and applying data-driven technologies to the city’s healthcare system.
David Lam Tzit-yuen, Legislative Council member for Medical and Health Services
Such an approach is not efficient enough to deal with the current omicron outbreak in Hong Kong, he said.
Speaking to China Daily in an interview on Tuesday, Lam suggested the government attach greater importance to building a more efficient medical ecosystem, including exploring technological ways for medical tracking.
“The government should consider developing and applying data-driven technologies to the city’s healthcare system,” he said.
The risk of exposure and getting infected, as well as vaccination and testing records — all this information should be captured to form a comprehensive record which is similar to the health code on the Chinese mainland, Lam said. “Then we can have more effective measures to contain the pandemic.”
A better healthcare system is needed for the city, with improvements to the efficiency of updating medical information, medical tracking and so on, to prevent similar strains in the future, he stressed.
The government needs to announce and update pandemic-related data and information in a more timely manner. This is essential to enable residents and medical staff to stay alert to the current situation and to take action to protect themselves and fight against the pandemic, he said.
Hong Kong’s healthcare system has become overwhelmed, with increasing demand for testing and medical treatment, as the city reported a record high of 55,353 new cases on Wednesday.
The city is still facing a shortage of temporary isolation wards and facilities despite the newly completed makeshift hospital, built with the central government’s support, in Tsing Yi, the lawmaker said, adding that more professional personnel from the mainland are also needed.
“The medical resources provided by the central government are very helpful. I am very thankful for that,” he said. “I hope Hong Kong can get more support from the mainland, including isolation sites as well as medical teams.”
Also, as the special administrative region’s government is discussing details of the Compulsory Universal Testing scheme, there is a need for more medical kits and staff to ensure smooth operation of testing services if the plan comes into effect, he added.
Despite the serious situation Hong Kong is currently facing, the city is in good condition to battle the pandemic, Lam said. First, executive and legislative authorities have been working in a more harmonious way following the electoral system’s revamp; second, the social atmosphere is improving, with fewer people holding negative views about mass testing; and third, the vaccination rate, especially among the elderly and children, has been increasing, which will play a positive role in reducing the number of cases with serious symptoms, he said in another interview with Xinhua news agency.