Hong Kong reported a record 56,827 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday as the government called for united efforts to battle the city's worst outbreak.
It also recorded 144 deaths related to COVID-19. Only 20 of the deceased had received at least one vaccine shot. There were also 42 deaths that were not reported earlier due to information delays.
"While we are at the height of the epidemic, we must remain united and, with the support of the government, we can win in this fifth wave," Chui Tak-yi, undersecretary for food and health, told the daily news briefing.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said on Thursday that fighting against the pandemic was the overriding mission of all civil servants, regardless of the departments they belong to.
Staff members of 39 departments under eight bureaus are engaged in small-scale lockdown operations, according to the government.
In the past three days, over 30 such operations, involving COVID-19 tests for tens of thousands of residents, were carried out.
Retired chief inspector Luk Hoi-ho lent a hand at the front line of the "silent war". Luk and 500 others, mostly retired members of the city's disciplined forces, helped residents in these small-scale lockdown areas get registered and delivered supplies.
"We understand how heavy the burden is for people fighting against the pandemic on the front line, like medical workers, and we felt it is the responsibility of people like us-who have time and the relevant skills-to come to help," Luk said.
"Every day is an unforgettable memory. We are fighting a silent war against an invisible enemy."
About 1,000 government employees were deployed to answer calls on a 24-hour telephone hotline to provide assistance to residents in distress, including confirmed patients and those under home quarantine.
While the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau is planning this month's scheduled mass testing program, staff members of the Civil Service Bureau are leaving no stones unturned to find venues for vaccination. Current and some former members of the disciplined services have been mobilized to take up management duties at community isolation and treatment facilities.
The government said that from April 1, civil servants wishing to enter government buildings will need to have had two shots of COVID-19 vaccine.
Leading a team of mainland health experts in Hong Kong, Liang Wannian, head of the National Health Commission's COVID-19 response expert panel, said they are still analyzing the current pandemic situation and will discuss relevant issues with Hong Kong experts before coming up with any suggestions.
He said he is confident about Hong Kong's ability to overcome the pandemic, noting its high-quality medical resources and good governance.
With the central government's help, the strong leadership of the SAR government, the united efforts of all sectors and the city's solid experience in combating severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003, Hong Kong will surely win this battle, Liang reassured residents.
The overriding mission is to reduce transmission, infections and severe cases. The limited resources and attention should be focused on high-risk groups, places and organizations, Liang said.