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Health officials warn of virtual lockdown as 73 new Covid-19 cases reported

20 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Drs Chuang and Ho at today's press briefing: drastic measures may be taken if hospitals are overwhelmed

Hong Kong health officials are warning of stricter measures, including a stay-at-home order or a virtual lockdown, if the number of Covid-19 cases continues to surge.

The warning came as 73 new confirmed cases were reported today, Jul 20, the second highest daily toll after yesterday’s record of 108 cases. Of these cases, 66 are locally acquired, and seven are imported, including one Filipino seafarer.

The first to sound out the alarm was top microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung who said in a radio interview that Hong Kong may have to go into a virtual lockdown if the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase in the next one or two weeks.
He described the measure as “close to a lockdown” of the entire city.

At today’s Covid-19 press briefing, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection did not discount this possibility.

“If the cases increase exponentially, then of course we will be overwhelmed and we will  need to take new measures,” Chuang said.

She said today’s decline in the number of cases from Monday’s record tally cannot be seen as a downward trend as they reflect the situation in the past two to three weeks because of the incubation period of the disease.

Of the seven imported cases, four involved seafarers, including one who flew in from the Philippines, another from Korea and two from Qatar. The others were a pilot who flew in from Japan, another traveler from Ehiopia, and another from Kazakhstan.

Among today’s local cases, 39 are linked to previous infections, including 24 that spread among family members, a new one at a table tennis center in Yau Ma Tei and at the Eye Centre in Tuen Mun. 
But a number of new infections are causing concern, including a doctor who runs a clinic in Causeway Bay, and had visited an elderly home in North Point; and a patient who tested positive after being put in a ward with 10 other patients following an appendectomy.

Several clusters of people who dined at restaurants were also in list, including three more family members who had a meal at ChiuChow Garden at MetroPlaza in Kwai Fong, making a total of nine infections; and six patrons of  Victoria Harbour restaurant at the Metropark Hotel in Mong Kok.
6 of today's cases dined at Victoria Harbour restaurant in MetroPark Hotel in Mongkok

There were also several cases linked to the Fulum restaurant in Tuen Mun Central Square where a birthday party was held, and about 20 tables were booked.

Dr Linda Yu of the Hospital Authority, meanwhile urged people to go to private laboratories if they want to get themselves tested for the disease and are asymptomatic, so as not to put a strain on the public health system. 
“Those without symptoms but want to be tested must approach private laboratories recognized by the government…the A&E (accident and emergency) sections of public hospitals will only provide tests for patients with symptoms,” she said.

Yu said the Lei Yue Mun holiday camp is being readied to take in patients if the public hospitals are filled to capacity in the next two weeks. She said the temporary hospital should be ready in 72 hours should the need arises.

As of noon today, she said 562 confirmed cases are in isolation rooms in 14 hospitals, 23 of them in critical condition, and 13 in serious condition. A total of 1,301 have been discharged, after eight more recoveries today.

The death toll remains at 12.

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