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China erects makeshift bridge to rush pandemic workers into Hong Kong

'Hospital' at end of the bridge will contain up to 10,000 people in quarantine at a time

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The Shenzhen Bay Bridge that currently connects Hong Kong and Shenzhen. (Twitter, Katherine L photo)

The Shenzhen Bay Bridge that currently connects Hong Kong and Shenzhen. (Twitter, Katherine L photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chinese authorities have set up a temporary bridge between Shenzhen and Hong Kong in an effort to speed up the flow of anti-pandemic workers and equipment into the territory.

The bridge coincides with the construction of a makeshift hospital which will have 1,000 beds and room to quarantine up to 10,000 people at a time, according to a Guardian report. China sent in over 2,000 contractors from China State Construction Engineering to build the facility.

Hong Kong’s fifth wave has seen skyrocketing numbers of community infections, reaching a record of 56,827 on Thursday (March 3). The Chinese government in Beijing has sent in resources and medical workers in an effort to prevent further spread, including a total of 29 million rapid antigen tests (RAT tests) and 54 million face masks as of Tuesday (March 8).

Health experts in the territory report strict measures are having adverse effects on the citizens’ mental wellbeing, with fearful public messaging about the virus causing panic to spread among the populace. The effects are being acutely felt among children, after local authorities insisted infected children, no matter their age, must be isolated. School teachers have also raised concerns about the long-term harm that keeping students away from classrooms can have on children’s social development.

Despite this, Chinese authorities in Beijing have insisted Hong Kong continue what it calls a "dynamic zero” strategy which involves trying to stamp out infection cases through a variety of harsh measures. This is in stark contrast to most other parts of the world, where governments have instead opted to coexist with the virus by pursuing high vaccination rates and mask-wearing in public.

Last month Hong Kong authorities indicated they would test the whole population, specifying a fine of US$1,280 (NT$35,657) penalty on individuals who resist getting screened. Yet on Wednesday (March 9), Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) said it was no longer the first priority, though mandatory testing may still be implemented.