The government’s response to the Covid-19 epidemic has been called into question again, after a 62-year-old woman fell ill and died while waiting to be taken to a quarantine centre. Officials admit the fourth wave of the virus has created a backlog and led to delays in isolating close contacts of those who are infected. The latest mishap underlines the potential risks arising from the glaring inadequacies of the existing arrangements. Having handled such cases for almost a year, the government should have had an effective and efficient quarantine mechanism in place. The woman in question was required to undergo a mandatory test and isolation soon after a relative contracted the virus. She developed nasal congestion the following day and was found dead in her flat after attempts by her family to reach her came to nothing. Hundred of others are said to be still waiting their turn to be taken into isolation. With some 2,000 new confirmed cases reported over the past few weeks, the number of those in need of quarantine can only be imagined. But with 1,600 units still available, it would seem to be more of a manpower problem in transferring people rather than a lack of facilities. Similar delays emerged during previous outbreaks, with some confirmed patients waiting days to be taken to hospital. That raises questions over just how prepared the government is at a time when those responsible for transfers are clearly overwhelmed. Authorities should consider tapping resources from other departments, where normal work may have been suspended, and show greater flexibility in manpower deployment. There is also a need to make more vulnerable cases a priority. The situation has been made even worse with the rising trend of younger and asymptomatic people coming down with the virus. On Wednesday, a 56-year-old pro-government figure collapsed and died at her home. She had reportedly suffered a fever and cough for a week and tested positive for Covid-19 at hospital following her death. The growing number of patients already diagnosed as being critically ill by the time they seek treatment is worrying. Separately, the structural design of some blocks of flats may have contributed to transmissions, further increasing the risks arising from delays in putting those affected in isolation. Timely quarantine is an important component of an effective epidemic control strategy. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has conceded that the government response could have been better. It is regrettable that lessons have yet to be learned after nearly a year. Quarantine arrangements are clearly a weak link that need to be fixed fast.