Passengers wearing facemasks board a junk boat on Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong on Dec 22, 2022. (ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

HONG KONG – The health authorities of Hong Kong recorded 18,626 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday while 53 people died after catching the virus.

According to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health, 990 of the new cases were imported while the rest 17,636 were locally acquired. The city has so far recorded 2,522,836 coronavirus infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020.

The recent rise in the number of cases which came with the easing of restrictions, the overall occupancy of medical beds in acute hospitals is around 116 percent, data from the Hospital Authority showed

Meanwhile, the latest deaths took the city’s tally of casualty to 11,562.

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Of the local cases, 3,787 tested positive by nucleic acid tests and 13,849 through rapid antigen tests (RATs), the CHP said in a statement. 

Among the new imported cases, 627 involved samples taken at the Hong Kong International Airport, 260 involved samples taken during day 1 to day 3 of their arrival while the remaining 103 during day 4 to day 7.

As of Monday, the Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratory Services Branch had identified 226 cases of sub-lineage XBB, six of XBD, eight of BA.2.75.2, seven of BA.4.6, 13 of BF.7 and 38 of BQ.1.1 among the imported cases. Another 154 cases of sub-lineage XBB, 18 of XBD, one of BA.2.75.2, 12 of BF.7 and 185 of BQ.1.1 have been detected among locally transmitted cases. 

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As at Monday, total 4,884 patients testing positive for the virus were hospitalized for treatment. Among them, 661 were new patients.

A total of 3,131 patients required isolation, 668 oxygen therapy and 84 ventilator support, the Hospital Authority said. Condition of 15 newly reported patients were critical while of 28 new patients serious, it added.