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HK people urged to stay home as 38 new Covid-19 cases reported

12 July 2020

By The SUN
People are again being asked to avoid going out as 30 new local cases were reported

Thirty local cases of coronavirus infection in Hong Kong were confirmed today, Jul 12, prompting the Centre for Health Protection to urge people to stay at home and admit the local outbreak “is a little bit out of control”.

Four Filipinos who arrived from Manila in recent days were among eight imported cases confirmed today, bringing the total number of new cases to 38. An additional 20 were reported as having tested preliminary positive.

Two of the new arrivals from the Philippines are domestic helpers, aged 38 and 45, who both arrived on Jul 10 and were asymptomatic.

The other two are both men who appear to be sailors, aged 49 and 69. One arrived on Jul 9 and was sent to hospital from home quarantine, while the other was referred by the Port Health Division after arriving on Jul 10. Both had fever and cough.

A third  Filipina domestic worker was also found infected after developing an itchy throat yesterday. The helper, aged 52, lives in the same house in Tseung Kwan O as her employers and their 13-year-old daughter, who all developed symptoms earlier.

Among the new cases are 4 recently-arrived Filipinos and a migrant worker infected at her employer's home

CHP’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said the new confirmed cases brought Hong Kong’s total tally to 1,469. The source of 13 of today’s cases is unknown.

Responding to a query on when she expects the crisis to end, Chuang replied that it does not seem like the contagion will stop soon.

“We’d like it to end as soon as possible but given the current conditions, it doesn’t seem (like) it’s going to stop easily,” she said.

Chuang also said in response to another query: “We are having more and more cases each day, so it is a little bit out of control.”

She said those infected live in different areas and go to work in different industries and districts where they come into contact with various persons, so infections increase.

“So, we need to be more careful. We need to maintain personal hygiene, and we should avoid unnecessary gatherings, just as what we did a few months ago, that can help slow down the outbreak,” Chuang said.

She said if people stayed at home and had less interaction, Hong Kong could slow down the outbreak. At the same time, she said the government should tighten distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Chuang urged people living in the areas where there had been outbreaks in recent days to go for testing immediately if they feel unwell. They shouldn’t wait for the CHP to hand out sample bottles as that would be “time consuming and the yield would be very low,” she said.

She expressed concern that more taxi drivers are getting infected in the third wave of the contagion, with another cab driver among the confirmed cases today.

The CHP official also noted the risk of getting infected in tutorial centers, saying the cramped space in such institutions could easily spread the disease.

An 11-year-old female student of Po Leung Kuk Lam Man Chan Primary School and her mother also tested positive, and so did a 7-year-old boy who went to Chun Yin Education Centre for tutorial, Chuang said.

She said CHP was contact-tracing more than 10 pupils who attended the same tutorial school as the boy patient.   

Two teenage female students at Good Hope School also tested positive. One of them was the 13-year-old who infected her parents and their Filipina helper.

An Immigration officer at the Shenzhen Bay border checkpoint whose preliminary test was positive on Saturday, was a confirmed case today, Chuang said.

She said another man, also 48, who tested positive today, said he went to a bar in Tsimshatsui late on Jul 1, but forgot its name.

Dr Sara Ho, Hospital Authority chief manager, said a total of 205 confirmed patients are currently hospitalized in 10 hospitals. Four of them are in critical condition, three are in serious condition, and the remaining 198 are in stable condition.

Earlier today, Gabriel Matthew Leung, dean of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, told a radio program the transmission rate in the contagion’s third wave had risen by 30%, or an average of one positive person infecting 3 to 4 others.

Leung, a public health authority, cited a research that indicated the virus has mutated. He said this is just the beginning of the local outbreak and the situation is more serious than at the start of the infection in January.

He said Hong Kong’s virus detection capability was ahead of the world but has not continued to improve. He added the public medical system and university laboratories are not enough to cope with the outbreak and need help from the private medical sector.

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