Coronavirus: as Hong Kong social-distancing restrictions ease, city expects seven – mostly imported – new cases


HONG KONG, Oct 30 (SCMP): Hong Kong is expected to record seven, mostly imported, new Covid-19 infections on Friday, according to a medical source, as social-distancing measures around the city were relaxed.

The source said one local case with an untraceable source was among the day’s tally.

But while the number of local cases has dropped in recent weeks, infectious disease expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu warned the coronavirus situation in Hong Kong remained unstable.

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“Although the number of [local cases with an unknown source of infection] in October is lower than that in July, the epidemic has still not reached a controlled stage,” he told a local radio programme.

Leung pointed out there were more than 20 untraceable cases so far this month.

In contrast, during a relatively quiet period in May and June, there were very few untraceable local cases, he said.

On Thursday, the city logged two imported cases and one locally transmitted infection – a 50-year-old woman, pushing the official tally to 5,313 cases, with 105 related deaths.

The woman was a colleague of a 42-year-old clerk earlier found to be infected. They both work in Sheung Wan’s Siu Ying Commercial Building. The Centre for Health Protection said about 20 staff members from the office would be quarantined at a government facility.

Authorities have also asked some 500 households living in the same block as the 50-year-old at Lok Man Sun Chuen in To Kwa Wan to give deep-throat saliva samples, though the tests are voluntary.

Beaches to reopen, more people allowed together in restaurants, bars, as social-distancing rules eased

Meanwhile, under the newly eased social-distancing rules, six people are allowed to sit together at restaurant tables, up from four, while the limit for bars and pubs rose from two to four.

Dine-in services will also be allowed to operate until 2am, an extension from midnight. But customers must wear a mask when not seated and are not allowed to eat or drink away from their tables.

Capacity limits rose from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for restaurants, bars and pubs, nightclubs, swimming pools and public entertainment venues such as theme parks and museums.

But the ban on public gatherings larger than four, the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport, and other related social-distancing rules remain in place until at least next Thursday.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said public beaches would reopen next Tuesday, after more than three months, but barbecue facilities there would remain closed. - South China Morning Post

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