Epidemiologist says lockdown not needed
Friday, March 27, 2020
A University of Hong Kong epidemiologist says there is no need for a lockdown of the city despite an increase in the number of local outbreaks, RTHK reports.
Recent clusters of cases have been linked to the entertainment district of Lan Kwai Fong, and a wedding in Discovery Bay.
But Professor Benjamin Cowling, head of the university's epidemiology and biostatistics division, says most of the coronavirus cases have been imported and there is not a lot of local transmission, adding that the measures taken so far by the government have been balanced.
"If we’re in a desperate situation like maybe northern Italy was, then you go to a lockdown because you want to really stop transmission at all costs, but in Hong Kong, we’re not in that position. We could do a lockdown and stop all transmission, but actually there’s not that much transmission to stop," he says.
Cowling said the health authorities would be able to keep on top of the clusters of cases at the moment with extensive contact tracing and testing, but warned that they could be overwhelmed if there is a sharp increase in the number of patients.
"If we had instead of one or two clusters at the moment, 10 or 20, suddenly it’s much more difficult to get on top of, to track all those people down and to keep a close eye on, and that’s what we’re really worried about, that we’ll be overwhelmed by outbreaks, and then it’s difficult to pull back at that point."
Hong Kong has so far recorded 453 confirmed infections, with four fatalities.