More virus clusters predicted in HK

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Public health experts from Hong Kong University (HKU) have warned of the risk of another wave of coronavirus outbreaks in the city, as new locally infected cases emerged at Lek Yuen Estate in Sha Tin, RTHK  reports.
Professor Benjamin Cowling from the university's School of Public Health said the reproduction rate of the virus  in the city has risen again since the end of May, and is now close to 2 – meaning that each infected person now transmits the virus to nearly two others on average.
He said more community clusters may appear in the coming one to three weeks.
“Right now we are observing the situation very carefully. We are not ready to say the second wave has started,” said Cowling.
“But given that the social distancing measures have been relaxed, given that we have identified quite a number of cases in the current cluster … we would anticipate more clusters emerging in the coming one to three weeks.”
The expert said their analysis of more than 1,000 coronavirus cases in Hong Kong shows that 20 percent of those who got infected were responsible for the transmission of the virus to 80 percent of all recorded cases.
He said expanding the city's testing capacity is needed to help track down the more contagious virus carriers at an early stage and stop the chain of transmission.
Professor Gabriel Leung, who also took part in the study and who has been advising the government on the coronavirus situation, said ideally around 10,000 tests should be carried out every day.
He said high-risk groups such as elderly people living in care homes and their carers should be given priority for the testing.
Workers in markets, the retail sector and public transport should also get tested regularly, he said.