Hong Kong’s days as a shining example of how to stave off the coronavirus have ended. With the Omicron and Delta variants rampaging and the hospital system and testing and quarantining facilities overwhelmed, the city needs help. The ever-surging numbers of cases and resultant long wait for screening and treatment prove we cannot cope. There is every need for mainland Chinese health officials, with their expertise and resources, to come to the rescue. Local officials will be meeting mainland counterparts in Shenzhen soon to determine what should be provided. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last week said she had asked the central and Guangdong governments for assistance, particularly on boosting testing capacity. But since then, the need has become urgent; daily infection numbers have been mushrooming, with another record of 1,325 confirmed yesterday. The highly transmissible Omicron is behind most cases and with many having no traceable source, a better strategy is a necessity. Hongkongers should welcome such help. While Omicron usually causes mild or no symptoms, it may lead to severe illness and even death for those who are unvaccinated or have weak immune systems. Too many people have still not been inoculated, particularly those above 70 years of age, and the city has to buy time. The Covid-related deaths of a man and a woman in their 80s took the total since the start of the pandemic to 218, and another pair of elderly people who have not been vaccinated are critically ill. Although there are plans to boost daily testing capacity from 100,000 to 300,000 and provide more quarantine facilities, the fifth wave of the disease will take time to control and resource levels need to be substantially ramped up. But that is not all that is needed; the ability of health officials to trace and track cases is wanting due to the limits of the “Leave Home Safe” app that is used to enter a range of venues and alert when infections have been detected. ‘New makeshift hospital on agenda’ to help Hong Kong contain Covid-19 surge Its application will be substantially expanded beyond government premises, restaurants, fitness centres and other venues on February 24, although the failure to include public transport and share data with authorities is an obvious shortcoming. The mainland equivalent requires a user’s name, identity number, close contacts and travel history which, in conjunction with a card that pinpoints precise location, enables classification of health and risk and dictates where people can go. The technology has been highly effective in containing outbreaks. Hong Kong authorities have not said whether a tracking system will be added to the city’s app. But all tools have to be considered. Health security is essential for every community and we now need the mainland’s involvement to prevent our strategy from failing.