Hong Kong’s government has invoked emergency powers to allow doctors and nurses from the Chinese mainland to practise in the financial hub as it struggles to tackle a spiralling coronavirus outbreak.
“The regulation will provide a legal framework for the CPG (central people’s government) to render the necessary emergent support to Hong Kong in a more effective and expeditious manner,” the government said in a statement.
The densely populated metropolis is in the throes of its worst-ever Covid wave, registering thousands of cases every day, overwhelming hospitals and the city’s requirement that all patients are isolated in dedicated units.
Local authorities adopted a zero-Covid strategy similar to China to keep infections mostly at bay for two years.
But they were caught flat-footed when the highly infectious Omicron variant broke through those defences and have increasingly called on the Chinese mainland for help.
“Hong Kong is now facing a very dire epidemic situation which continues to deteriorate rapidly,” the government said in its statement announcing the use of emergency powers.
Chinese mainland medics are not currently allowed to operate in Hong Kong without passing local exams and licensing regulations.
The emergency powers “exempt certain persons or projects from all relevant statutory requirements” to operate “so as to increase Hong Kong’s epidemic control capacity for containing the fifth wave within a short period of time,” the statement said.