As more people come down with the coronavirus and lose their lives, the need for Hong Kong to stay united in its fight has never been higher. This includes getting the public and private hospitals working together to make the most of the city’s medical resources and manpower to cope with the crisis. This will, hopefully, ease the burden on the overloaded public health care system and set a good example for wider cooperation across sectors in combating the pandemic. Half of all Hong Kong public hospital beds to be set aside for Covid patients The priority for the government to better engage the private sector in the current make-or-break battle was made plain by Beijing yesterday. Speaking to National People’s Congress deputies from Hong Kong, Vice-Premier Han Zheng told the city to take strong and decisive measures. The state leader also reportedly took issue with reports saying private hospitals had refused to handle Covid-19 patients and hoped that was just “fake news”. The recent disturbing images of hospital wards engulfed with virus patients are solid evidence of a sector nearing collapse. They also raise questions on whether private hospitals can play a more proactive role . Earlier, officials said there were talks to enhance cooperation that included private hospitals providing outpatient consultations for Covid patients and accepting those with mild symptoms, as well as allowing the transfer of others to help alleviate the overall burden on the public health care system. It is good to hear that the initiative has borne fruit, with a few hundred non-virus patients benefiting from cooperation. But against the backdrop of tens of thousands of others awaiting treatment for the virus, the number is but a drop in the ocean. That public hospitals have survived four waves of Covid owes much to the strong fundamentals of the health care systems and professionalism of medical staff. But the sector has also suffered great hardship, with thousands of workers coming down with the virus. Credit goes to those who have helped bridge the gap. As the latest wave escalates, some private health care professionals have offered to work in public hospitals. To help free up space at overburdened public health facilities, the charity foundation of billionaire Li Ka-shing has donated HK$60 million to subsidise treatment of non-virus patients at private hospitals. Over 1,900 children in Hong Kong admitted to hospital in Covid fifth wave Public health care workers must not be left to fight alone. The soaring figures – about 484,000 infections and 2,070 deaths since the fifth wave, call for all-out efforts against the pandemic across society. Instead of finger-pointing and buck passing, it would do well for public and private hospitals to map out a joint action plan. The government must also improve coordination across different bodies and take the lead in mobilising cross-sector cooperation.