A 68-year-old chef who works at the Sun Fat Restaurant in Jordan was infected. Photo: Google Maps

The Hong Kong government may tighten social distancing rules after nine local infections were identified in the city on Tuesday.

The latest community outbreak involved many unknown transmission sources and can be called the “third wave” of the Covid-19 pandemic in Hong Kong, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable diseases branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said in a media briefing on Tuesday.

Chuang said the latest outbreak was caused by an increase in social activities in the city over the past few weeks. She said people may have paid less attention to social distancing rules than they should have as not many local infections were recorded last month.

“The re-emerge of local cases showed that the transmission chain through asymptomatic patients in Hong Kong has never been cut off,” Wong Ka-hing, the controller of the Centre for Health Protection, said in the same briefing.

The number of local infections in the coming few days would be an important indicator of Hong Kong’s epidemic situation, Wong said. Ships’ crews and flight crews would be required to take virus tests, while anti-epidemic rules in elderly homes would be tightened, the government said in the evening.

“It will never be too late if there is a need to tighten the anti-epidemic rules,” he said. Social distancing rules may also be tightened, he added.

In Hong Kong, the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic broke out in late January and February after people had gathered to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The second wave was mainly caused by infected students and workers returning from overseas to Hong Kong prior to the Easter holidays.

Four of the nine local infections identified on Tuesday were linked to two infected employees of the Bun Kee Congee & Noodle Foods company in Ping Shek Estate in Kwun Tong.

On Sunday, a 59-year-old chef was identified as the 1,269th patient in the city. He could have been infected while working in a restaurant in the River Trade Terminal. His 30-year-old colleague at Bun Kee was also found to be infected on Monday.

On Tuesday, a 58-year-old taxi driver was confirmed to be infected after he visited Bun Kee on July 1. Living at the Choi Fai Estate, he could have then passed the virus on to his 14-year-old son, a student at the CCC Rotary Secondary School. The school was closed down for two weeks from Tuesday.

The taxi driver could have also infected his 68-year-old friend, a chef and cashier at the Sun Fat Restaurant in Jordan. A 28-year-old man was also infected after he visited Bun Kee.

Health officials are also investigating five local cases that have unknown transmission chains.

A 40-year-old man (patient 1,292), who worked for the Hospital Authority and lived in Tak Wo House, Wo Che Estate in Shatin, had a gathering with friends on June 28 and visited the Hong Kong Disneyland and had a buffet meal in one of the Disneyland’s hotels on July 3. He felt sick and was admitted to hospital last Saturday. Since June 20, he had been to the Hong Kong Railway Museum in Tai Po, Cheung Chau and the Inspiration Lake.

Apart from these cases, Hong Kong recorded another five imported cases on Tuesday. Three came from the Philippines and included a 31-year-old domestic worker and two seafarers aged 56 and 49.

A Pakistani man and woman, aged 55 and 36 respectively, tested positive but they remained asymptomatic.

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