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Thousands of people go outdoors as HK’s new Covid-19 cases drop to 4

13 April 2020

By The SUN

People kept to the 4-to-a-group rule, but still sat close to each other on this small grassy patch on the Peak

Hong Kong people flocked to various popular gathering spots on Easter Sunday, as health authorities reported only four new cases of Covid-19, bringing the city’s total tally to 104.

Three of the new cases involve people who had flown in from abroad: one who visited the United States, while the two others are students: one in the United Kingdom, and the other, in Canada.
The last case is linked to another patient who had tested positive earlier.

It was the lowest daily increase since Mar 14, when four new cases were also reported, and the fourth consecutive day when fewer than 20 cases were reported.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said there is indeed a downward trend in the number of new infections, but is still too early to say whether the epidemic is now under control.

“I cannot say this is under control yet because usually what is meant by under control is if we don’t have any cases in at least one or two incubation periods,” Chuang said. “You need more than two weeks or a month.”

She also warned that given the global spread of the disease, Hong Kong will continue to detect new cases from residents coming from overseas.

“We will definitely have new cases,” she said.

Health Department official Sophia Chan warned of new transmissions from arriving mainland Chinese visitors, as the country starts reopening its borders.

But the risk of community clusters remains a big concern, since many people continue to ignore social distancing laws by flocking outdoors, especially amid the clear and sunny weather of the past three days.

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Photos in newspapers and on social media show beaches, hiking trails and parks again teeming with people. Even malls and tourist destinations like the Peak have attracted large crowds.

But Chan warned the coronavirus “does not know it is a holiday.”

Meanwhile, the Food & Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has warned that it will start prosecuting restaurants that violate the new regulations on social distancing or crowd control.

Restaurants are warned they will be prosecuted if they do not follow the social distancing restrictions

Director Vivian Lau also said violators may be prohibited from receiving subsidies from the government, which range between $200,000 to $2million, depending on their size,

Lau said the FEHD has issued more than 17,000 verbal warnings and more than 30 fixed-penalty summonses since the new restrictions were imposed on Apr. 6.

She said the warning stage is over and restaurants that are henceforth found to have violated the prohibitions will be prosecuted immediately.

Under the new measure, all restaurants must take in only half their usual capacity. In addition, no more than four people may sit at each table, which must be at least 1.5 meters apart from the next table. 

Customers should also wear masks and must have their temperature checked before being allowed entry.

In addition, bars inside restaurants that primarily serve liquor must be closed off.
Violators face a fine of up to $50,000.

Lau also revealed that the FEHD has approved more than 2,000 applications in the first round of funding for the food industry, involving about $2.7 billion. A total fund of $3.8 billion has been allocated for this purpose.


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