Gov’t extends social distancing measures until June 4 following recent trio of local COVID-19 cases

People hold candles at the vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2019. Photo (for illustration): AFP
People hold candles at the vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2019. Photo (for illustration): AFP

The city’s anti-epidemic measures are set to be extended yet again in light of the recent trio of local COVID-19 cases involving a Tsuen Wan couple and their granddaughter, though the current number of confirmed coronavirus cases is holding steady for the second consecutive day.

During a press conference today, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said that the government would extend its existing social distancing measures by two weeks starting on Thursday — meaning that the public gathering laws would still be in place on June 4, jeopardizing the city’s annual Tiananmen vigil.

Religious gatherings, however, will now be allowed to resume at 50 percent capacity.

The Center for Health Protection did not hold its regular coronavirus briefing today, which Chan confirmed was because no new COVID-19 cases had been detected within the last 24 hours — marking the second day in a row that no cases were recorded in Hong Kong.

Chan also revealed that the Center for Health Protection had collected over 3,100 deep saliva samples from people who may have come in contact with the Tsuen Wan family, from their neighbors to the workers at market stalls that they frequented. Over 2,000 of the samples have been tested so far, all of which have reportedly yielded negative results.

However, Chan noted that the origin of the infections has not yet been discovered, and urged citizens to keep up their efforts in terms of social distancing and hygiene as “the local transmission chain has not been completely broken yet”.

When questioned about the extended public gathering measures and their overlap with the Tiananmen vigil, Chan denied that the timing was politically motivated, and said that the move was in following with the government’s 14-day extension policy.

Chan reiterated that the government would continue to review its anti-coronavirus measures as part of its “suppress and lift” strategy, which tailors the severity of epidemic control measures frequently based on the latest developments.

Secondary schools are still on track to resume classes next Wednesday. Karaoke lounges, nightclubs, party rooms, and bathhouses — i.e. the four types of scheduled premises that were ordered to remain closed until May 21 — will stay closed until May 28.

The more relaxed social distancing measures which allowed seven types of scheduled premises — such as bars, gyms, game centers, beauty parlors, and cinemas — to reopen this month have been extended until May 28.

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