Hundreds of thousands jet off for Christmas holidays and escape cool local weather
Some 473,000 people left the city on Friday alone
People jetted off for the Christmas holidays in their thousands on Friday, with many leaving Hong Kong by plane, while back home hospitals were overflowing as the winter flu season continued.
A total of 372,000 people poured into Hong Kong on Friday ahead of the main Christmas festivities while 473,000 people chose to leave by land, sea and air, which suggests that the number of people coming and going is slightly lower than in previous years for the same comparable time period.
Almost 100,000 people opted for the departures lounge at Hong Kong International Airport, higher than any other previous year recorded in official statistics, while another 80,000 arrived home for the start of their holidays in the city.
Immigration officials expect around 9.24 million Hong Kong residents and visitors will enter and exit the city by land, air and sea borders throughout the peak period of the holidays, and around three quarters of that number would cross at land boundary crossings.
The cold spell of weather, which has caused an upsurge in winter flu cases, was continuing to put a strain on medical resources. During peak season influenza surges, people waiting in hospital corridors on trolleys are a common sight, some in makeshift cubicles.
Several public hospitals, including the biggest – Queen Elizabeth Hospital – were coping with bed occupancy rates of over 100 per cent, as of midnight on Friday, according to the latest available statistics. Several more medical facilities were running in the high nineties as far as demand for beds was concerned.
The cold weather would abate, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, which could ease some of the high levels of sickness. On Christmas Eve, sunshine and a few clouds will dominate with temperatures set to climb to a brisk 22 degrees.
Next week, the weather is set to be dry with some cloud cover. Temperatures will range between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius.