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HK hits new daily high of 149 Covid-19 patients

30 July 2020

By The SUN
Diners will again be allowed to eat inside restaurants from tomorrow, but only from 5am to 6pm

The number of Covid-19 cases has continued to rise in Hong Kong, with the total tally of 149 today, Jul 30, exceeding all previous records.

It was the ninth straight day that the city recorded more than 100 confirmed cases, pushing the total tally to 3,151.

About a third of the patients are in hospital or isolation facility, while 24 have died.

Today’s tally included 145 local cases, another record high. Only four came from overseas, reflecting the effectiveness of cross-border restrictions imposed on Jul 25 and 29.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said three were seafarers from India whose ships have been quarantined off Lamma island since last week, after six crew members who left saliva samples at the AsiaWorld-Expo site were found infected. 

Chuang said the fourth was a flight crew from the Philippines, the first time there had been such a case in Hong Kong. She gave no details, but a list published in the government website showed she is a 28-year-old female, and has been listed down as case no. 3004. Her airline or the flight she took was not identified.

The new restrictions that took effect yesterday required all sea and air crew to provide a negative result for a swab test taken within 48 hours of their departure time from their point of origin.

Otherwise, they should undergo testing at AsiaWorld-Expo near the airport. Hong Kong-based crew can leave their test samples, while those based abroad must wait there for their test result.

The rule was imposed after some health experts warned the massive outbreak appear to have been brought in by travelers previously exempted from testing on arrival, and the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Air and sea crew were among those in the exempted list.

An isolation facility at the AsiaWorld-Expo near the airport will start accepting patients from Saturday (File photo)

The new surge in cases has overwhelmed hospitals for the past few days that up to 200 confirmed or preliminary positive patients have been told to remain at home while hospital beds are being freed up for them.

Dr Sara Ho of the Hospital Authority said between 100 and 200 patients are now waiting for admission to a hospital, even after 270 previously confined in isolation rooms were moved to tier-2 beds in isolation wards.
In addition, 162 recovering patients were moved to the community quarantine facility at Lei Yue Mun holiday camp.

“We are trying to commission the AsiaWorld-Expo community isolation facility by Saturday to shorten the waiting time,” she said.

Ho said there are 1,168 patients admitted in 16 hospitals and the Lei Yue Mun facility; 39 of them critical, 32 serious, and 1,097 are in stable condition.
Amid the rapid increase in cases, the government further tightened gathering rules.

From yesterday, a maximum of only two people could gather in public, the wearing of masks was made mandatory in all public places, all recreational facilities except open parks were closed, and dine-in services at restaurants was banned.

However, the dine-in ban was totally reversed today as dozens of workers were shown having lunch by the roadside, or in front of restaurants, because they did not have an office or an indoor place to eat in.
Undersecretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yin said: “The government understands the inconvenience and difficulties the measure will bring to employees after reviewing the situation of a total ban on Wednesday.”

Thus, from tomorrow, diners will again be allowed to eat inside restaurants from 5am to 6pm, after which they can only by food for takeaway. But only two people can eat at each table, and the number of diners cannot exceed 50% of the restaurant’s capacity.

The stricter rule was imposed after several clusters of cases were traced to people dining together in restaurants across Hong Kong, notably the Bun Kee Noodle and Congee shop in Tsz Wan Shan and the Fulum restaurant in Tuen Mun.

Chui also said tests have been carried out in the hard-hit sectors: 23,000 in the catering business; 17,100 staff in 553 elderly homes; 1,000 among taxi drivers; and 4,200 among property management staff.

Of today’s locally acquired cases, 84 involved family members or friends of previously infected people.

Two taxi drivers are included in the list, as well as two more workers at the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse.

An additional case was recorded for the Cornwall elderly home in Tuen Mun, where about 20 other residents and staff had tested positive earlier.

Several patients admitted to general wards at four hospitals have also tested preliminary positive.
Among them is a 64-year-old man who was put in a ward at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for with eight other patients, initially for a heart ailment.

A second patient, a 71-year-old woman, was immediately put in an isolation ward after experiencing chest pain. She was initially taken to the hospital after having fever and discomfort.

At Caritas Medical Centre, a four-year-old boy who had fever, vomited in an observation ward. The ward assistant who attended to him was not wearing PPE, so he was quarantined. The boy was immediately admitted for isolation at Princess Margaret Hospital.

And at North District Hospital, a 79-year-old woman was put in a general ward with six other patients while under observation for anemia. She was later put in an isolation ward after testing preliminary positive.

In response to a question from a reporter, Chuang disclosed that six staff at Metro Radio have tested positive for the virus, and one was preliminary positive.

“Some did not wear masks during radio programs,” she said.

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