Customers at a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong. Photo: RTHK

Hong Kong recorded two local infections between Wednesday and Thursday, creating obstacles for the city to form “travel bubbles” with other places.

The Center for Health Protection said Friday that seven cases were identified on Thursday, including six imported cases and one local infection. It had been the first coronavirus infection with no known source in almost one week.

The local case involved a 44-year-old man who lived in North Point who had taken his company’s shuttle bus to work at the Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan. He developed symptoms on Tuesday and was identified as a carrier of the virus after undergoing tests arranged by his company on Wednesday.

About 40 of his co-workers have tested negative for the virus, but 11 who are considered close contacts will be put under quarantine.

During his incubation period, he went hiking with friends on Beacon Hill and Mount Parker, and had lunch with the Beacon Hill group. He also played badminton with friends at the Harbour Road Sports Center. Those friends will also be put under quarantine.

Within the 24 hours on Wednesday, a local patient was identified to be infected. A 50-year-old woman, who lived in Lok Man Sun Chuen in To Kwa Wan, felt sick on October 22.

According to the Center for Health Protection, she could have been infected by her colleague, who had earlier been identified as infected. She was not sent to a quarantine center as she was not a close contact person of her infected colleague.

Leung Chi-chiu, chairman of the Medical Association’s advisory committee on communicable diseases, suggested that colleagues of a patient should give samples for virus testing at least twice as some of the infected could test negative in their incubation periods.

Leung said a second round of tests should be done on people five days after an outbreak.

Leung said people should stay vigilant to social distancing rules as the epidemic situation in Hong Kong had not been stabilized.

From Friday, bars and restaurants are allowed to operate at 75% capacity, up from 50%, and to open until 2am. Restaurants will be allowed to seat up to six people per table – up from four – while bars and nightclubs can seat a maximum of four per table, an increase from two.

Some Chinese restaurants expected their revenue to increase by 10% after the government allowed up to six customers to gather at one table. In recent weeks, many restaurants and fast food shops have been operating with a full house, ignoring the capacity limit of 50%.

While the Hong Kong government has high hopes of forming an “air travel bubble” with Singapore, the Singapore Tourism Board said Thursday that there had not been any update about the scheme.

The city-state said it had set up a lot of QR code checkpoints in the city to trace tourists and increased the anti-epidemic requirements at tourism sites. It said the city would further relax its social distancing rules by the end of this year.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore announced on the same day that Singapore would lift its border restrictions for visitors from mainland China and Victoria State in Australia from November 6, 2020, as the two places had comprehensive public health surveillance systems and displayed successful control over the spread of Covid-19.

Visitors from these two places will undergo a PCR virus test upon arrival at Singapore’s airport and if the result is negative, they will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore without being quarantined.

Prior to this, Singapore had lifted its border restrictions for travelers from Brunei Darussalam, New Zealand and Vietnam.

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