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Work-from-home and 2-to-group back as 76 new Covid-19 cases reported

30 November 2020

By The SUN 

Employees will work from home again while only 2 people can gather under new rules


Civil servants will have to start working from home again, while the rule allowing no more than two people to gather in public will be brought back starting Dec 2, under strict new anti-epidemic measures announced today by Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

At a news conference attended by her health officials, Mrs Lam said only government staff providing emergency services will be reporting for work under the new measures that will take effect for two weeks from Wednesday.

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She said she hopes the private sector will follow suit.

Within the same two-week period, only two people will be allowed to gather instead of the current four. Restaurants will also be able to sit only a maximum of two people per table, and provide dine-in services until only 10pm instead of 12am. The number of customers should not exceed 50% of the venue’s capacity.

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A number of entertainment venues will again be closed, including theme parks, bars, karaokes, night clubs, party rooms, public bathhouses, swimming pools, game centers and mahjong parlours. Government performance venues can only be used for rehearsals.

“We are now closing almost everything,” said the CE, as she warned that the penalties for violating the anti-epidemic measures will be increased by multiples – either double or triple – as the previous amount did not seem to serve as enough deterrent.

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The stringent measures are to be taken as the city registered 115 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, the highest since the peak of the third wave of infection last August.

Today the cases were lower at 76, but they continue to cause concern as most came from the ever-widening dance cluster, which now counts a total of 520 cases.

 

CE Lam (middle) announces tough new rules along with key health officials

Health officials said that in the past week, between Nov 23 and 29, an average of 87 cases were recorded each day. More than 90% of these cases were local transmissions, and more than 100 of them were of unknown sources.

Lam noted that the cases have spread over several districts, indicating an invisible transmission chain in the community.

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At least 30 schools had to be closed due to a cluster outbreak among teachers and students, while nine civil servants have also been infected.

Of today’s new cases, 59 were linked to previous infections, including 40 from the dance cluster. Nine are untraceable.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang klwentong Dream Love

A further eight were imported cases, including a newly arrived domestic helper from Indonesia, three returnees from the United States, one from Brazil, another from Pakistan, one from Russia, and the last from Poland.

They brought the city’s total tally to 6,315, with 109 deaths.

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Among the new cases that concern authorities is the one pertaining to an employee and diners at Sky Cuisine on Des Voeux Road in Central who all tested positive. Everyone who had been to the restaurant from Nov 15 onwards will now have to undergo compulsory testing.

Sky Cuisine in Sheung Wan is the 4th restaurant to be put under compulsory testing order

A patient suffering from pneumonia tested positive at Alice Ho Miu Lung Nethersole Hospital in Taipo after being treated in the emergency room with five other patients. All the fellow patients and about 25 hospital staff who were in contact with them have tested negative.

Among the preliminary cases is a resident of Pak Lok Nursing Home in San Po Kong. About 50 patients who stayed on the second floor of  the building with the patient will be quarantined while those on another floor will be tested.

Another preliminary case is a student who participated in an outdoor school activity with a teacher and some other students. Health officials say they were told that everybody wore masks during the activity, but they are still investigating.

In a further response to the fresh outbreak of cases which CE Lam described as “very severe,” sample bottles that are being distributed at 47 designated public health clinics will be increased from 4,000 to 8,000 per day.

All of the city’s 121 post offices will altogether also distribute 4,000 sample bottles per day, while the government says it is in talks to get major MTR stations to also distribute specimen kits.

In addition, five more community testing centers will be set up in addition to the nine that are already operating. The plan is to set them up in community halls in various districts.

To further expand its quarantine facilities for close contacts of infected patients, the government has designated two hotels for this purpose. Food and Health Secretary Thomas Chan identified the first hotel as Silka Tsuen Wan Hotel, the other will be named later.

Chan also said that the government is reviewing whether to require an additional virus test for new arrivals, on the 19th or 20th day after they land in Hong Kong. This is an additional safety precaution suggested by health experts who say the incubation of the virus could take longer than the 14-day compulsory quarantine period.

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