Hong Kong is finalizing details of a travel bubble with Singapore with hopes of flights to the Lion City by the end of this month.
At least one flight would fly between the cities per day during the initial phase, Commerce Secretary Edward Yau said. Travel agencies would start selling tickets by the middle of November.
However, three people tested positive for Covid-19 as Ho Pak-leung, head of the University of Hong Kong’s Center for Infection, expressed concern about infections re-emerging as people became less vigilant as social distancing measures were eased.
Ho said several preliminary positive cases reported on Sunday were linked to social gatherings during a long weekend last month, while many people also gathered on Halloween.
“It’s alarming. There are always big crowds at entertainment and catering venues. Many people don’t comply with anti-epidemic rules,” he said.
“Hong Kong has been seeing similar cycles. When the rules are tightened, the number of infections drops. When the rules are relaxed and people don’t follow them, we see a rebound in cases.”
Ho called on the public to install a mobile phone app to be introduced by the government aimed at boosting contact tracing by tracking people’s activities. The app will allow members of the public to scan QR codes and record the venues they have visited. Users will be alerted if cases appear at these places.
Three patients were identified by the Center for Health Protection as they were related to a group of people who had a three-day staycation in a hotel between October 25 and 27.
During the 24 hours on Sunday, six people tested positive in the city, including three imported cases and three local infections, according to the Center.
A 26-year-old woman, who lived in Wai Tau Tsuen in Tai Po and worked in Wong Chuk Hang, developed fever on October 28 and consulted a doctor on the same day. She was admitted to the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital and tested positive on Sunday.
She had been to Seaview Holiday Resort in Silvermine Bay on Lantau Island with seven friends between October 25 and 27. The eight stayed in three different rooms but had barbecues and meals together.
A 26-year-old man from the group and a 15-year-old boy, the woman’s family member, were identified as being infected.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, director of the Communicable Disease Division at the Center for Health Protection, said the three patients had low cycle threshold values, meaning that they had a high concentration of virus in their bodies.
Chuang said the cases was defined as an outbreak because people in the cluster did not wear masks for most of the time during the gatherings. She warned that there could be more local infections to come.
The 15-year-old, who studied at Fanling Lutheran Secondary School, had been to the school last Friday. He did not take off his mask at school but had a meal with friends afterwards. On October 29, he played basketball with a dozen friends without wearing masks in Luan Wo Hui. The school has been closed for two weeks from Monday while the friends are sent to quarantine centers.
On Saturday, a 42-year-old mainland woman who was awaiting deportation was identified as a patient. She was reportedly staying at the Oriental Lander Hotel in Mong Kok but was arrested by police during an anti-prostitution operation on October 28 for having overstayed in the city.
She was sent to the Ma Tau Kok Immigration Detention Centre and showed symptoms last Friday. The police did not disclose when the woman had arrived Hong Kong. It was categorized as a local case. More than 10 people, including four police officers, have been sent to quarantine centers.
Last Saturday, thousands of revelers crowded into Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district after the government relaxed rules for bars and restaurants from Friday. The district had not been this crowded at least since the early summer, before bars and restaurants were ordered to close because of a spike in cases.
There was a heavy police presence to make sure people follow those regulations and other rules, including having to wear masks when not eating or drinking. Ten bars violated the epidemic rules while 45 customers were fined, police said.
“If the coronavirus situation changes and there are a lot of violations of the social distancing rules, we would not rule out tightening these measures,” Health secretary Sophia Chan told an RTHK program on Monday.
“I hope people have self-discipline. I understand people would like to relax as the pandemic has lasted for a long time. But large crowds should be avoided for the overall coronavirus situation in Hong Kong.”
Chan said she was worried by the outbreak at Seaview Holiday Resort, as well as the gatherings to celebrate Halloween. She said officials had been carrying out checks and prosecuting those suspected of breaking social distancing rules.