Next Covid wave could hit before winter: Cowling - RTHK
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Next Covid wave could hit before winter: Cowling

2020-09-21 HKT 12:39
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  • Benjamin Cowling says the gradual resumption of activities like reopening of bars may come at a price. File photo: RTHK
    Benjamin Cowling says the gradual resumption of activities like reopening of bars may come at a price. File photo: RTHK
Benjamin Cowling talks to RTHK's Richard Pyne
A University of Hong Kong medical expert has warned that there could be a resurgence in Covid-19 cases sooner than expected because of the recent easing of social-distancing measures.

While the government said a fourth wave of infections could hit this winter and be more devastating than previous rounds, renowned epidemiologist Benjamin Cowling said what he saw last week – with the reopening of bars and karaoke lounges and people no longer working from home – is a cause for concern.

"People are back out on the streets. There's a lot of people out and about last weekend," Cowling said.

"We would expect to have a fourth wave of infections sooner or later. We would've been hoping that there'll be a bit of time, a bit of a pause now, where we can relax or then maybe later this year maybe we'll see a fourth wave.

"I'm a little bit worried now that we might be seeing a resurgence quite soon. I hope that's not the case but there are worrying signs and because the social-distancing measures have been relaxed, it does make me worried that there is opportunity for Covid to spread now."

He told RTHK's Richard Pyne a resurgence in cases would probably be fuelled by hidden infections in the community, rather than the virus brought in from outside of the city.

"I'm a little bit more concerned about infections that are still in Hong Kong domestically from the third wave. We never got down to zero consistently, and if there is going to be a fourth wave soon, my expectation is that there would be a fourth wave resulting from those infections, the 'leftover' infections from the third wave that are still here... rather than being stimulated by imported cases from outside."

Another medical expert and a government advisor on Covid-19, David Hui of Chinese University, also sounded a warning about the spread of the virus.

Hui expressed concern about media reports showing some bars were seating more than two people per table in violation of social-distancing rules, calling these high-risk activities.

He also said while the government may ease a ban on public gatherings from four to six people during the mid-autumn festival, that would still depend on how the outbreak unfolds in the coming days.

Meanwhile, sources say there are six new coronavirus cases in Hong Kong on Monday.

If confirmed, that would be a drop from 23 the day before, a majority of them imported cases.
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Last updated: 2020-09-21 HKT 12:49