A passenger wears swimming goggles and a face mask as he waits inside the high-speed train station connecting Hong Kong to mainland China during a public holiday in celebration of the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong on January 28, 2020. Photo: Anthony Wallace / AFP

The Hong Kong government has been urged to let public service workers work from home after more Covid-19 cases with unknown origins were recorded.

On Friday, 58 new infections were recorded, including eight imported cases and 50 local infections. Of the local cases, 32 could be linked to previous cases while the rest were unknown.

Newly-identified patients included shop and restaurant staff, nurses, a bus driver, a receptionist in a shopping mall, a foreign domestic worker and a local newspaper editor. Many other patients were infected after visiting restaurants in East Kowloon.

“We don’t know whether the number of local infections has peaked. It is still increasing with many cases having unknown sources,” Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Center for Health Protection, said on Friday.

“The epidemic situation is worrisome as the virus has spread everywhere in the city with patients from different sectors being infected,” Chuang said, adding that it was difficult to cut off the transmission chains because many new cases had unknown sources.

Chuang said people should persuade elderly parents, who usually have weaker immunity and not obvious illness symptoms, not to go outside.

Leung Chi-chiu, chairman of the Medical Association’s advisory committee on communicable diseases, said the government should act quickly to control the situation because the virus has infiltrated neighborhoods across the city.

“The most efficient means is for most of the residents there to try to stay home as much as possible. I think this is the quickest way and surest way of decreasing the transmission,” he said.

Leung Chau-ting, the chairman of Hong Kong Federation of Civil Service Unions, said the government should to let civil servants work from home to prevent the outbreak from spreading further.

Leung said the Civil Service Bureau had said on Thursday that departments could let staff work from home as long as public services were not affected, but the policy was unclear.

He suggested that a third of public officers could work from home while essential services such as licence registration could be maintained.

The Guangdong provincial government announced on Thursday that people coming from Hong Kong, except officials, cross-border drivers and students, must present a health certificate and stay in quarantine for 14 days.

The Hong Kong government warned that those who were refused entry by mainland authorities would still have to complete 14 days of quarantine on returning to Hong Kong.

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