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HK people told to stop partying at home as 100 Covid-19 cases reported

08 December 2020

By Daisy C L Mandap

Chan says HK people must avoid dining at each other's homes to prevent the spread of the virus

The Hong Kong government has, for the first time, advised people to avoid going to each other’s homes over the Christmas holidays to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Health Secretary, Dr Sophia Chan, issued the call today, Dec 8, as she announced the enactment of tougher anti-virus restrictions.

“We would (also) appeal to people not to cross families because this again would increase the risk of transmitting the disease, since someone may carry the virus, given that there are many asymptomatic cases,” she said.

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Shortly after she issued the appeal, the Centre for Health Protection reported that there were 100 new Covid-19 cases reported as of midnight last night. 

Ninety-five of the cases were locally acquired, and five were imported. Of the local cases, 68 were linked to previous infections, mostly from clusters that developed in various districts; while 27 had unknown sources.

Dr Chan gave details of the more stringent gathering rules announced in the morning by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

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These include limiting dine-in services at restaurants to not later than 6pm, allowing no more than two people to dine together, and filling venues to only up to 50% of their capacity. The new rules will take effect from Thursday and last 14 days.

A new law that gives government the power to seal off premises hit by the virus until the test results on affected people had come out, was also approved during the Executive Council session today.

Together with the power to impose mandatory testing on people in high-risk groups, this new rule will allow government to confine residents in infected buildings to their homes until after those with the virus had been identified for isolation.

 

Kwai Shing West estate could have been locked down if the virus spread was extensive

CE Lam had said earlier such power could have been used to stop some residents of Kwai Shing West from leaving their homes before the test results on those in the affected floors had been completed.

But asked during the press briefing on the latest coronavirus situation in the city on whether a lockdown of the entire public estate was being considered, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan from the Centre for Health Protection said no.

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“The government said if the test results (of affected residents) were not satisfactory, we can lock down the estate, but the results had been satisfactory,” she said.

Of the 1,300 tests conducted among residents, Dr Chuang said only five positive results had come out, although there were “a number” of preliminary positive cases. This group accounts for 18 cases so far.

The biggest cluster is still by far those from the dance venues, where 13 more cases were added today, making a total of 660 so far.

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Another outbreak that's causing concern is the one involving staff at Halls 5 and 7 of AsiaWorld-Expo, who are tasked with looking after residents of a care home for mentally handicapped patients, who had been quarantined at the facility.

Nine more staff were found infected today, raising to 12 the total number of infections uncovered since yesterday. About 80 other staff had to be put under quarantine as soon as  the first cases arose.

Chuang said the quarantined residents could be difficult to control, and many take off their masks in the presence of staff.

“It’s difficult for staff to handle them, because they may not be very cooperative and most of them eventually become infected,” said Chuang.

“Just like in the other residential care  homes in Hong Kong or the disabled homes, when there’s an outbreak, you’ll find lots of staff as well as residents being infected.”

Chuang says AWE staff had difficulty handling the mentally disabled patients 

The other cluster-related cases include 2 from the construction site in Lohas Park, which now has 52 cases in all; 2 more from the Fong Shu Chuen Day Activity Centre, making a total of 60 cases; and three more from the Yata Supermarket, along with 7 preliminary cases.

The five imported cases were made up of a female air crew member who flew in from the United States, a male sea crew from Russia, two male returnees from the United Kingdom, and a Pakistani man who tested positive in a quarantine centre.

Dr Sara Ho, a chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said 71 patients had been discharged from hospital as of 9am today, raising the number of recoveries to 5,696.

There are still 1,135 patients confined at 22 public hospitals and the AWE treatment facility. Among these, 38 are in critical condition, 46 are seriously ill, and 1,051 are in stable condition.

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