‘Worst time to relax’: Experts warn sustained outbreak likelier than ever, 48 new COVID-19 case confirmed

Researchers with HKU speak to the press about the rate of new infections in Hong Kong on Friday. Screengrab via Facebook.
Researchers with HKU speak to the press about the rate of new infections in Hong Kong on Friday. Screengrab via Facebook.

A group of researchers today warned that Hong Kong is now facing its greatest risk of a sustained coronavirus outbreak, as health officials announced a staggering 48 new infections this afternoon.

According to RTHK, the researchers, from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, pointed out that the rate of infection — a metric for how many people each confirmed case infects in turn — is now greater than one, a troubling milestone.

“This is the worst time to relax because we’re at the highest risk since this began,” cautioned the center’s Gabriel Leung, pointing to surveys and anecdotal evidence that Hongkongers appear to be taking the threat less seriously.

“It is absolutely critical especially as we have this influx of Hong Kong returnees starting from a few days ago and continuing for the next few days. We must be extra vigilant.”

The warning came as government officials said 48 more people had contracted COVID-19, a one-day hike three times greater than the previous record. The total number of recorded cases in the city now stands at 256.

Officials reported that 36 of the new patients had recently traveled overseas, a figure in keeping with the theory that the city is seeing a so-called “second wave” of case spurred by Hongkongers returning to the SAR from overseas amid worsening outbreaks in the West.

A 4-year-old girl was the youngest of the new cases. She is believed to have contracted the coronavirus from her father, who was recently in the U.K., though she is not currently exhibiting symptoms.

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