Hong Kong has detected an untraceable local Covid-19 case following the relaxation of social distancing measures, sparking fears over another community outbreak.

Seven out of 11 confirmed cases on Monday were imported whilst one of four local infections had an unknown source, Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the Centre for Health Protection said at a regular press briefing. The untraceable infection was a 46-year-old female living in Tsing Yi’s Rambler Crest.

Photo: Kaiser/HKFP.

Nepal Airlines flights will be suspended for two weeks after six imported cases arrived in Hong Kong on the company’s carrier. The measure will be implemented by invoking the Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances and Travellers.

Since the coronavirus arrived in Hong Kong in late January, public hospitals have discharged 4,864 recovered patients. Seventy-one per cent of negative pressure wards are currently in use and 117 patients are still being treated in 17 hospitals, 11 of whom remain in critical condition.

One patient confirmed to have Covid-19 on Sunday may be prosecuted for giving false or misleading information, Chuang said. Health authorities found she had gone shopping with a friend, contradicting information she provided earlier; the friend later preliminarily tested positive for the virus.

Social distancing measures were relaxed in late September as students returned to schools, and clubs and bars reopened, with no more than two customers per table. Swimming pools, sports facilities and theme parks also mostly reopened.

However, travelling restrictions including the mandatory two-week quarantine for all incoming travellers will remain in force until at least until December 31, 2020.

Chuang Shuk-kwan. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Reflecting on the surge in local untraceable infections, Chuang said there may be asymptomatic patients in the community or patients who have Covid-19 symptoms but refuse to seek medical treatment.

“They may rekindle fires and our job as investigators of the disease transmission is akin to extinguishing those fires,” she said. She urged members of the public to maintain social distancing as authorities struggle to detect infections before they emerge.

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.