A swab sample is collected at a makeshift Covid testing site at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Hong Kong on September 1, 2020. Photo: AFP / Anthony Kwan

HONG KONG – Nine local Covid infections were identified across Hong Kong between Sunday and Monday, forcing the government to further extend social distancing rules by another week from Friday.

The Center for Health Protection said Tuesday that eight cases were recorded, four imported and four local, within the 24 hours on Monday. Prior to this, 11 cases were recorded, including six imported and five local infections, on Sunday.

Hong Kong has so far reported 5,201 cases, with 105 deaths. During the last two days, three cases with no known sources were identified in different districts.

A 68-year-old man, who lived in Tower 8, The Wings, Tseung Kwan O, felt sick on October 5 and consulted a doctor on the same day and on October 8. He then sought medical treatment at Tseung Kwan O Hospital on Sunday where he was admitted for further management. He and a 32-year-old family member tested positive on Monday.

Another case with an unknown source involved a 48-year-old man who developed fever on Saturday. Living in Block A, Believe Garden, Ngau Tau Kok, the man sought medical treatment at United Christian Hospital on Sunday and was identified as a Covid-19 patient on Monday. He worked at Cityplaza One and last went to work on October 9.

A 23-year-old Pakistani woman, who returned to Hong Kong three months ago and was isolated for two weeks from July 11, tested negative twice at that time. She gave birth at Kwong Wah Hospital on August 27 and remained virus-free.

On October 10, she was taken to hospital after suffering back pain. She then tested “weak positive” for the virus, while she also had the antibodies. She was living in Larkspur House in So Uk Estate in Cheung Sha Wan and was categorised as a local case, instead of an imported one.

“It’s a possible locally linked case, but there is also a possibility that she’s an imported case because she had a travel history from Pakistan in July and her antibody has tested positive, but of course we cannot exclude that she’s a locally acquired case from the community,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease branch of the Center for Health Protection.

An 18-year-old student, who lived in Tin Hee House, Ting Ping Estate in Sheung Shui, tested positive on Sunday. It was said that she was linked to the China Secret bar cluster.

She felt ill on October 4 but attended classes at Tuen Mun Youth College the following day. The college, together with the nearby Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Tuen Mun), was ordered to close for two weeks.

As untraceable cases were still recorded, the government decided to extend its social-distancing rules by one more week. Restaurants are required to cap the number of people per table at four, use only 50% of their spaces and close by midnight. However, many restaurants have ignored the rules and used all their tables to boost revenue.

The government said last week that it was mulling a mandatory test scheme for everyone in the city, pending legal advice. Medical experts have mixed views on the scheme.

Yuen Kwok-yung, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong. said testing should be targeted and focused on segments of the population where it is easier to find more symptomatic patients, especially after the previous citywide testing scheme came up with only a few infections.

While coronavirus testing needs to be more targeted at certain high-risk groups, especially when resources are limited, mandatory tests should be required of people with mild respiratory symptoms, he said.

The government’s infection-control measures should be more targeted at high-risk places, including wet markets, roast meat shops and small-scale coffee shops that are more likely to accept cash, rather than using contactless payment methods, Yuen said.

However, Henry Yeung, the president of the Doctors’ Union, said mandatory tests might not work in Hong Kong as private doctors had to get the consent of patients before any procedures could be carried out.

Yeung said the government could provide incentives, such as offering meal vouchers, for people to get tested.

He said many people refused to take the test because they had already taken it or feared that a positive result would inconvenience family members and friends who would have to be quarantined.

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