9 new local COVID-19 cases confirmed in Hong Kong as experts warn of risk of community outbreak

Chuang Shuk-kwan, the Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, speaks at a press conference on July 7, 2020. (Photo via Apple Daily)
Chuang Shuk-kwan, the Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, speaks at a press conference on July 7, 2020. (Photo via Apple Daily)

Hong Kong recorded 9 new local COVID-19 cases Tuesday, the highest daily count since community transmission peaked in March and early April.

Four of the nine visited—or were in contact with people who went—to a congee and noodle shop in Kwun Tong, where a 59-year-old male who works there tested positive on Monday.

Of the two that didn’t visit the shop, one is a 14-year-old male who ate takeaway food from the restaurant that his father, also infected, bought for him. The father, a taxi driver, is likely to have spread the virus to a 68-year-old man who recently rode in his car.

The 14-year-old’s school announced Tuesday that it is suspending classes.

Five local cases have no known transmission links, including an 85-year-old woman who lives at an elderly home in Wong Tai Sin. Residents at the center will be quarantined at a facility in Pok Fu Lam.

A 40-year-old male who works at the Hospital Authority has also tested positive for the virus. He works in the IT department and does not interact with patients day to day, but his recent visit to Disneyland is sparking fears that he could have infected others unknowingly.

“Even though there haven’t been that many local cases recently, we can’t say the chain of transmission is broken,” Wong Ka-hing, controller of the Centre for Health Protection said during an afternoon press conference. “We believe it’s never been broken, because… there are still invisible infections and invisible spread [of the virus.]”

Hong Kong has recorded sporadic local cases in recent months, with most of the infections being imported from countries such as Pakistan and the Philippines. (Five imported cases were confirmed on Tuesday.)

David Hui, an infectious disease expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, says the government should consider tightening social distancing measures to ward off the risk of a local outbreak.

Last month, public health restrictions relaxed restrictions banning gatherings larger than 8, permitting meetings of up to 50 people as the virus curve continues to stay flattened.

As of Tuesday, Hong Kong has recorded 1,300 COVID-19 cases.

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