Third wave of coronavirus in Hong Kong – social distancing measures to be extended
By World Healthcare Journal-
Social distancing measures are expected to be extended for a further week in Hong Kong, following a large spike in cases over the past month.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong had an excellent coronavirus response. With the damage caused by SARS fresh in mind, Hong Kong had the ability to enact a rapid response to deal with the incoming pandemic, despite many large-scale protests which occurred throughout the year - making this a remarkable feat.
However, this only worked for a time. Throughout the first few months of this year, when the Covid-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold, vigilance was high, mask-wearing was already commonplace, and protective measures were strong.
But when measures were eased following months of lockdown and social distancing, foreign citizens and visitors began to arrive, restrictions were eased across the city, and inevitably - cases began to rise.
And over the past few weeks, cases have skyrocketed. Throughout the end of July, more than 100 cases were recorded each day, and only now are cases beginning to slow down. Monday marked the eighth day of daily cases dropping below 100, however, rates are still high, with more than 69 new cases recorded today.
“Unless a curfew is imposed to keep all those tested indoors and for the whole population screening to be complete, it would be difficult to prevent reinfection,” President of the Hong Kong Medical Association Dr Gabriel Choi Kin said on the radio.
But now, Hong Kong authorities have announced that they will extend social distancing measures for another week in order to bring cases down, keeping gyms, bars, and leisure centres closed and mandating that restaurants should not operate during the evening.
There are also plans in place to ramp up testing in the region, with the announcement today that 5m people are expected to take part in a voluntary testing programme due to commence in the coming weeks.
The scheme was announced on Friday by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who also detailed that three laboratories in mainland China would be used for the testing, along with a surge team of more than 60 experts from the mainland.
“We are still deciding the exact process, but those who want to get tested will have to register first,” said Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee on the radio.
The announcement drew mixed reactions from the general public, with many glad that testing will be more readily available, but many fearful of the testing and data being processed by mainland laboratories.
“We understand the public may have different comments, but this time it’s a matter of life. I hope society can value science and evidence, and stop all kinds of conspiracies, defaming, smearing and creating conflicts, and should not undermine the relationships between the central government and Hong Kong, especially as it was the government that sought the mainland’s help,” says Carrie Lam.
This comes at a turbulent time for Hong Kong, as US President Donald Trump has put the region in his sights as he continues to ramp up his anti-China campaign, sanctioning officials across the mainland and Hong Kong - including Carrie Lam herself.
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