Hong Kong University microbiologist Ho Pak-leung warned on Monday that hospitals in the SAR could soon run out of space to take in patients with Covid-19, and alternative arrangements will have to be made for those who aren't seriously ill.
Ho said although it would be best to treat even those with mild symptoms in negative pressure wards, it would also be acceptable to house them in other places with good ventilation.
On an RTHK programme, he said the government and Hospital Authority are already planning to set up temporary facilities and coronavirus patients will have to be triaged if the situation worsens.
Ho said if public hospitals become too crowded, it would increase the risk of medical staff becoming infected with the virus.
But he added that it would not be acceptable to leave people suspected or known to have the virus to fend for themselves at home or in hotels.
The microbiologist also called for "martial law" level measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the territory, warning that without further restrictions Hong Kong could become another Wuhan – the mainland city where the virus first emerged, infecting and killing huge numbers of people.
Ho said the government should order the closure of bars and restaurants and public transport services ought to end earlier each day.
He also reiterated his call for non-residents to be barred from entering the SAR, saying this would relieve some pressure when it comes to limited supplies of testing kits, lab equipment and quarantine centre places.
'Hospitals won't be able to take all virus patients'
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