A Covid-19 cluster at a Yuen Long restaurant has expanded to 23, with three more customers testing positive for the virus.

The three – aged 71 to 76 – had developed mild symptoms, said the Centre for Health Protection’s Chuang Shuk-kwan. They had previously dined at Peony Golden Court.

Peony Golden Court Yuen Long
Peony Golden Court in Yuen Long. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

Authorities have already tracked down 190 customers, including one now in Shenzhen and two in Malaysia.

Chuang told a press briefing on Wednesday that contract tracing could now be done faster because authorities had access to people’s phone numbers via their Vaccine Pass, which is needed to enter restaurants and other businesses.

“When you go to restaurants you have to scan your Vaccine Pass. So [authorities] can access these vaccine records. When you make your vaccine booking, you [leave] your phone number, so it can be gotten that way,” she said.

LeaveHomeSafe QR code
A LeaveHomeSafe QR code outside a restaurant. File photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Asked how many restaurant tables were involved in the cluster, Chuang said it was around five to 10 tables, but the situation was “a bit complicated” as some customers shared tables with diners they did not know.

280 new Covid-19 cases

Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong have declined steadily since the fifth-wave outbreak peaked in March. The city recorded 280 infections on Wednesday and another three deaths.

Amid the easing of the pandemic, Hong Kong is on track to relax more Covid-19 measures. Starting next Thursday, business still closed – including bars, party rooms and karaoke lounges – will be allowed to reopen.

“With more people going out, naturally there will be higher chances of infection. But if… many people have immunity for a while [due to previously contracting Covid-19] or have the protection of three jabs, the rate of spreading would be lower,” Chuang said.

“We know the nature of Omicron hasn’t changed… but our ability to protect ourselves from the virus is a lot better than before.”

As of Tuesday, 84 per cent of elderly and disabled people in care homes had received at least one dose, up from 55 per cent in mid-March.

Residential care homes were hard hit during the fifth wave, with tens of thousands of residents becoming infected. Authorities began sending teams to administer jabs at the homes in April.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.