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Officials warn against easing curbs, as cases rise

2021-01-16 HKT 18:27
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  • Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan warned of a rebound in infections if people let their guard down. Photo: RTHK
    Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan warned of a rebound in infections if people let their guard down. Photo: RTHK
Health officials on Saturday played down hopes of an easing in coronavirus restrictions, after the number of Covid-19 cases ticked up.

Of the 50 new infections that were reported, 49 were local and 15 had no clear source.

The Centre for Health Protection’s Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan said the untraceable cases include five people living in an area of Jordan and Yau Ma Tei where the government has ordered thousands of people to undergo tests.

The five include a Nepalese housewife, a sales person, and a foreign domestic helper.

Chuang said there are also quite a number of new coronavirus patients living in Jordan and Yau Ma Tei who have been linked to previous clusters.

She said any let-up in social distancing could risk a surge in infections, noting officials hadn’t noticed a definite downward trend over the past couple of weeks.

"Any relaxation in the measures and if the general public does not have vigilance in keeping all these measures, the numbers may rebound," she warned.

There had been calls for the government from some in the catering sector to relax social distancing rules ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

Thomas Woo, a spokesperson for the Association of Restaurant Managers, said the current ban on dining in at restaurants after six in the evening should be moved to nine o’clock.

He said this would allow families to continue their tradition of going out for a meal to celebrate the new year. He said most restaurants were doing their best to comply with Covid restrictions and needed a boost to their business.

Meanwhile, Chuang also said health authorities had taken the rare step of banning anyone from entering or leaving an old tenement block on Reclamation Street in Yau Ma Tei, where residents have been moved into quarantine after more than 20 were infected.

She said the isolation order, believed to be the first of the pandemic in Hong Kong, was introduced because authorities weren't sure if they had identified every resident.

"There are a lot of subdivided flats and we do not have a name list of all the residents in this building,” she said. “Although the police and our department have conducted four rounds of operations to knock [on] the doors... we are not sure whether all the residents have been moved to the quarantine camps.”

Two more buildings in the district will come under the list that requires residents there to undergo mandatory testing, after Covid-19 patients were found to be living there.