Hong Kong reported nine new Covid-19 infections on Monday, marking the lowest rise in infection records since the first week of July.

Of the new cases, three came from family infection clusters while four were from untraceable sources. The two imported cases included a student returning from Switzerland and a Filipino domestic worker.

Photo: GovHK.

The Head of the Communicable Diseases Branch of the Centre for Health Protection Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan warned against an immediate relaxation of social distancing measures, saying that the latest dip in numbers may be short-lived. She added that the department is still in the process of handling a dozen preliminary cases that tested preliminary positive.

A disruption in testing during Typhoon Higos last Wednesday may also mean the daily recorded infection rate does not provide an accurate picture of the city’s coronavirus situation, Chuang said.

‘Silent carriers’

The seven-week low comes a week before registration for universal testing is set to begin on September 1.

When asked whether the scheme will still be effective given the low rate of recent infections, Dr Chuang said that universal testing was still necessary to identify “silent carriers” in the community and to sever chains of transmissions, citing that almost half of Monday’s cases were non-traceable.

Chuang Shuk-kwan. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“Universal testing may help us to identify cases that cannot be traced and we will have a higher chance of breaking the transmission links,” Chuang said. She added that the scheme will be useful if the city sees another wave of infections in the near future: “if all of a sudden, cases are numerous, we will not be able to cope .”

The universal testing scheme will last for 14 days, some of which will be carried out by workers from mainland China. The mainland’s involvement in the scheme has raised privacy and safety concerns from local opposition lawmakers, despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s rejection of what she deemed to be conspiracies theories.

So far, Hong Kong has recorded 4,691 coronavirus infections and 77 coronavirus-related deaths.

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Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.