Hong Kong records 32 more local virus cases as cluster emerges at Sha Tin estate

Commuters walk through Central MTR station on July 9, 2020. Photo: Coconuts Media
Commuters walk through Central MTR station on July 9, 2020. Photo: Coconuts Media

An additional 32 local coronavirus cases were reported in Hong Kong on Friday, marking a fourth straight day of a double-digit jump.

A new cluster has also been confirmed in Shui Chuen O Estate in Sha Tin, where 11 people living in the estate’s Ming Chuen House have tested positive for the virus. A 66-year-old female resident of the block was diagnosed with the disease earlier this week.

The patients in the block do not live on the same floor, or in units that face the same direction. Chuang Shuk-kwan, Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, said it is likely they were infected through contact with public facilities rather than through the building’s pipes or sewage system.

“There may be possible environmental contamination in the nearby malls or common facilities. But there are no structural defects that can be found that can explain the transmission between the residents,” Chuang said, adding there are no plans to evacuate the residents.

Authorities have distributed test bottles to vendors working in the shopping mall and market near the estate.

Another new infection involves a resident at an elderly care home in Wong Tai Sin, where 32 people have already tested positive for the virus. The resident’s 18-year-old son, who has visited his father at the home, is another positive case today.

Including the figures today, 95 local virus cases have been reported since Monday—a marked increase from the months before, when days or weeks would pass without a single local infection.

Authorities have re-introduced social distancing policies in light of the new wave of cases. Starting Saturday, restaurants are not to accommodate more than eight per table and can only operate at 60% capacity, while the maximum number of people per table at bars and nightclubs will be halved from eight to four.

School is also breaking early for the summer. Classes will be suspended on Monday onwards, though schools that have scheduled assessments to determine secondary school placement for Primary 5 students will go ahead with precautionary measures in place.

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