Hong Kong authorities report 8 new COVID-19 cases, the highest in over a month

Chuang Shuk-kwan, the Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, speaks at a press conference on May 21, 2020. Photo: RTHK/Facebook
Chuang Shuk-kwan, the Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, speaks at a press conference on May 21, 2020. Photo: RTHK/Facebook

Health authorities in Hong Kong announced eight new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a sharp increase that follows more than a month of zero and low single-digit cases.

All eight are imported cases from Pakistan, according to Chuang Shuk-kwan, the Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch. Seven of the patients flew back to Hong Kong yesterday on the same flight, passing through Qatar. The last is the relative of two patients who tested positive last week, also after returning from Pakistan.

“Imported cases are more or less based on the local situation [in where they come back from],” Chuang said during the afternoon press conference. She added that 20 or 21 Pakistan returnees have tested positive for COVID-19, which is “on the high side.”

Travelers returning from the UK and US also tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

The new cases today are the highest daily figure in over a month that saw 12 virus-free days. It also ends a three-day streak of zero cases.

Relative to the rest of the world, Hong Kong appears to have the epidemic under control with just 18 cases recorded since the start of May. Earlier, three weeks passed without a single local case, but the spell ended last week when a cluster of three infections were reported at a local housing estate.

Success in flattening the virus curve has prompted authorities to loosen public health restrictions in recent weeks. Gyms and salons reopened at the start of the month. Most office workers have gone back to the workplace, and students who have been out of school since January will resume to class next Wednesday in stages with senior high school students returning first.

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