Hong Kong reports more than 6,000 new cases in virus surge

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Patients lie on hospital beds as they wait at a temporary makeshift treatment area outside Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. Hong Kong's hospitals reached 90% capacity on Thursday and quarantine facilities were at their limit, authorities said, as the city struggles to snuff out a record number of new COVID-19 cases by adhering to China's "zero tolerance" strategy. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG – Hong Kong reported 15 coronavirus deaths and more than 6,000 confirmed cases for a second day in a surge the Chinese territory’s leader says its overwhelming hospitals.

Also Saturday, the government announced plans to have construction crews from mainland China build isolation units with 10,000 beds after crowding at hospitals forced patients to wait outdoors in winter cold.

There were 6,063 confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, raising the territory's total to 46,763. That was down slightly from Thursday’s 6,116 but one of Hong Kong’s highest daily totals.

Hong Kong has tightened travel and business controls as it tries to contain the surge. On Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the election for her post would be postponed by six weeks to May 8 due to “public health risks.”

Lam said Monday the territory’s hospitals were overwhelmed. The government said the new isolation and treatment units will be built in the Penny’s Bay and Kai Tak districts.

Mainland Chinese crews have experience constructing hospitals quickly after two facilities with 1,500 and 1,000 beds were built in Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, in 10 days in early 2020. They also converted 16 other buildings into isolation hospitals.

Lam said her government also would use hotel rooms, sports facilities and newly built public housing units to hold patients.

The chief executive of the Hospital Authority, Tony Ko, apologized in a radio broadcast Saturday after patients were forced to wait outdoors. He said most had been moved indoors or to other facilities.