Ursus Fitness in Sai Ying Pun on Hong Kong Island Photo: Google Maps

A new virus outbreak linked to a fitness center in Sai Ying Pun that has so far infected 64 people could be a “symptom” of a fifth wave of Covid-19 in Hong Kong, a medical expert says.

A total of 47 customers and their close contacts of a gym called Ursus Fitness were identified as infected on Thursday, according to the Center for Health Protection.

This raised the total number of cases in the cluster to 64, while 360 others have been put under quarantine.

Many of the patients in the cluster worked in Central, including bankers and lawyers, Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Center for Health Protection said Friday.

“It’s challenging because a lot of cases popped up in one or two days. They may have already gone to various places. Many of them went to restaurants or sometimes bars to drink with their friends and gathered at home. So it’s difficult to recall all these activities,” she said.

David Hui Shu-cheong, chairman of the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the gym outbreak could be a “symptom” of a fifth wave of Covid-19.

“We can say this is a super-spreading event,” Hui said. “We need to find out if the ventilation is good at the fitness centre, if it had limited group classes to four people, if the facilities and changing rooms were cleaned. So there are many factors. For a large-scale outbreak like this, there must be some big problems.”

Hui said the growing cluster was almost like a repeat of the outbreak at dancing and singing studios which triggered Hong Kong’s fourth wave, in which hundreds of people were infected. However, he said all fitness centers in the city should be closed only if a wider community outbreak was seen in the next two weeks.

On Thursday evening, the government tightened measures for gyms, requiring everyone to wear a mask, except when showering or eating. At the same time, four branches of Pure Fitness and Yoga in Central, Wan Chai and Quarry Bay were shut temporarily because two people who tested positive for Covid had recently visited the facilities.

An UA cinema in a shopping mall in Hong Kong on March 8. The cinema chain has become the latest victim of the pandemic, announcing its closure for good after 36 years in Hong Kong on March 8. Photo: EyePress News/AFP

A total of 60 new coronavirus infections were confirmed on Thursday, the highest daily number since late January. Of the patients, 54 were locally infected. Five cases were untraceable, involving a primary school student, a security guard and a housewife.

More than 20 others have tested preliminary positive for the virus, including a personal trainer who works at a gym in Central. Officials are investigating whether she’s linked to the Ursus Fitness cluster.

Over the past one month, the number of Covid cases has remained at around 10-20 per day. On Wednesday, the number of local cases was 19.

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