Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong’s premier nightlife hotspot — or hellhole, depending on your point of view — is back at the center of coronavirus chatter after five band members who had recently performed in the district were revealed to be among the 30 new COVID-19 cases confirmed today.
Health authorities revealed the new infections at an afternoon press conference, with the Centre for Health Protection’s Chuang Shuk-kwan characterizing live music performances as high risk as the city struggles with a wave of new infections after weeks of comparative success in curbing the coronavirus’ spread.
“Of course, the government can do something to ban certain places, to prevent gatherings. But it is the responsibility of the general public to avoid gathering. Because you can ban some public events, but you can’t ban private gatherings,” RTHK quoted Chuang as saying.
Indeed, the government is already moving to “ban certain places,” with Chief Executive Carrie Lam announcing yesterday that her administration is working to amend the law to forbid the sale of alcohol in the city’s nearly 9,000 licensed drinking establishments.
Curiously, however, Lam did not announce similar measures aimed at restaurants, claiming that booze, apparently unlike food, had a particular propensity for encouraging its consumers to get “a bit intimate,” fostering the spread of COVID-19. (Obviously Carrie Lam has never seen us get “a bit intimate” with a plate of chicken wings, but we digress.)
Today’s revelation of the five bandmates’ infections — as well as that of one more person who is a waiter in the area — was yet another blow to the entertainment district, which has already seen its business drop after other cases were linked to it. According to the SCMP, the new infections bring the total number of cases tied to LKF to a whopping 17.
Meanwhile, 19 of today’s 30 new cases involved people who had recently traveled abroad, as has been the case for the majority of new cases announced in recent days as outbreaks around the world worsen. So far, Hong Kong has recorded 386 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including four fatalities.