Hong Kong health authorities have warned there are no “foolproof” solutions for containing the coronavirus as the city grapples with a third wave of infections. There were reports of two more deaths and 61 new cases on Tuesday.

The financial hub has been sent into a partial lockdown with public health experts mulling the benefits of imposing a curfew despite the early success in keeping infection numbers low.

Coronavirus virus covid-19
Photo: GovHK.

Dr Yuen Kwok-yung from the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) Department of Microbiology said the government should consider ordering residents to remain at home should cases continue to rise, Stand News reported. His statement was supported by HKU’s infectious diseases expert Dr Ho Pak-Leung who urged tighter social distancing measures, according to local media.

However, shortly after Tuesday’s Covid-19 press briefing, the government released a statement refuting speculation over a lockdown: “In view of the severity of the epidemic situation, we should fight the disease together. Members of the public should not be misled by fake news, nor should they spread any rumour that can lead to unnecessary fear,” the spokesman said.

Two more deaths

The latest figures bring the total to 2,019 cases and 14 deaths. Of the newly-confirmed patients, three arrived in the city from countries such as Indonesia, 33 were linked to previous local patients, while 25 had unknown origins.

The new cases included a caretaker who accompanied elderly people from care homes to medical practices, whilst one of the more than 60 positive preliminary tests included a woman who was 35 weeks pregnant.

The two patients who died on Monday evening were being cared for at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam and Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin.

mask coronavirus covid social distancing closed playground
File photo: May James/HKFP.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable disease breach of the Centre for Health Protection, at a regular press conference expressed concern over asymptomatic carriers in the community: “In general, any surveillance system or any measures to prevent [the] introduction of infection into the community or into Hong Kong cannot be foolproof, even if you are testing all the incoming passengers.”

“If everybody [adopts] infection control measures strictly, then the spread may be stopped. But if everybody is complacent and gathering and [having] a lot of social activities – so even one introduction of infection can cause a major outbreak in the community,” she added.

Asked whether the government should consider cancelling the much-anticipated legislative election in September, Chuang said it would be better to call off events that may attract a large number of people if the epidemic situation worsened.

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jennifer creery

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.