Hong Kong could face a sixth wave of Covid-19 in two weeks’ time, Gabriel Leung, the dean of the University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) medical school, has said, according to local media.
According to HK01 and RTHK, Leung said during an internal HKU medical faculty meeting on Saturday that the city could see another wave of infections. His prediction was based on an analysis of epidemiological modelling and the fact that the city recorded around 300 new daily infections.
Leung also told doctors who attended the meeting “to meet whoever they need to these next two weeks, as gatherings will be restricted after the sixth wave breaks out,” Paul Shea, a doctor who was there, said to HK01.
Modelling from HKU has long shown the possibility of a sixth wave of infections following the relaxation of social distancing measures in the city.
Finally, the fact that HK’s daily reported cases have remained static around 300 for the past couple of weeks implies an Rt of 1 – ie we are on the cusp of a potential sixth wave if things tilt in the wrong direction slightly— Gabriel Leung (@gmleunghku) May 14, 2022
Leung’s recent comments came after the university’s faculty of medicine warned students and staff not to visit Kennedy Town last week, saying that there was “potentially a large Covid-19 cluster developing.”
The government later locked down an entire public housing estate, and found 22 Covid-19 cases.
Leung had since defended the faculty’s warning, saying that the message was for students and staff members “who can be vectors of infection for the highly vulnerable patients in our teaching hospitals.”
Hong Kong has reported 1,208,506 Covid-19 infections and 9,361 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic over two years ago.
Two other HKU experts have urged the government to relax Covid-19 Vaccine Pass requirements for adults aged under 60 in an opinion article published in Ming Pao on Monday.
Epidemiologist Ben Cowling and Theo Chan from the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy wrote that the government should focus on protecting the elderly. Even if younger adults were unvaccinated, or only received one or two doses, “it cannot be said that the health care system will collapse because of it,” they said.
The pair said that under the principle of “informed consent,” which was an important principle in medical law and ethics, people have the right to refuse to be vaccinated.
“However, if younger adults refuse to get vaccinated, they might not be able to go to school or work. The policy seriously limits personal freedom, and by nature has superseded the principle of ‘informed consent,'” the article read.
Cowling and Chan said that Hong Kong has already built an immunity barrier as most younger adults had received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and many people had immunity after being infected in the fifth wave.
“Further vaccinations of younger adults will hardly have any obvious benefits to zero-Covid or maintaining the medical system,” the pair wrote.
“We still urge Hong Kong citizens – especially the elderly – to receive a third or fourth dose of vaccine to protect themselves and their family, but [we] do not agree to the government continuing to ‘encourage vaccination’ through coercive policies.”