Uni student infection spurs staycation jitters

Top News | Maisy Mok 12 Nov 2020

Staycations enjoyed by many amid a Covid-19 fatigue could be regulated after a Baptist University student who went on two hotel stays with 15 friends sparked fears of another spread.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee made the warning after Hong Kong yesterday recorded 18 cases - the highest in weeks - taking its overall tally to 5,408, including 108 deaths.

The new infections were 15 imported and three local with unknown sources. Among the local cases was a 23-year-old Baptist female student who had staycations with friends.

During the incubation period, she went to the Royal Plaza Hotel in Mong Kok with about 10 friends on October 30 and 31.

Then it was at Hyatt Centric Victoria Harbour Hong Kong hotel in North Point on November 4 and 5 with at least five friends.

She last went back to Baptist on November 3 and developed fever two days later.

She tested positive on November 10.

The student went to taekwondo practices in Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan, Fortress Hill and Wong Chuk Hang.

She visited a dental clinic in Mong Kok, had a facial session in Tuen Mun and ate at a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in Sham Shui Po.

The Centre for Health Protection's Chuang Shuk-kwan said authorities were still carrying out contact-tracing involving the student.

A number of close contacts - including the dentist - would be sent to quarantine, Chuang added.

Chan said: "The recent number of local infection cases shows a rising trend.

"We have observed that small outbreak groups have emerged in the public due to various reasons such as anti-epidemic fatigue, frequent social activities and delay of taking tests."

While gatherings in private places such as hotels may not contravene the social distancing measures, Chan said such activities should be avoided as much as possible from a public health perspective.

"If cases involving congregations in hotels or other private places continue to be identified, we do not rule out the need to explore amending relevant regulations under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulations to regulate those activities and premises," Chan said.

The two other local cases are a male retiree, 76, who lives in Kwai Shing West Estate in Kwai Chung, and a project manager, 44, who lives at Parc City in Tsuen Wan.

Seven of his colleagues who work at Grandtech Centre in Shek Mun have to undergo quarantine.

The rest of the confirmed cases - 15 imported - comprise seven from Nepal, two from the United States, two from India, and one each from Britain, Ecuador, Morocco and Indonesia.

Director of Health Constance Chan Hon-yee said flights from Kathmandu in Nepal would be banned for two weeks from today.

Twelve passengers from a Tuesday flight - RA409 of Nepal Airlines - tested positive, including yesterday's seven cases.

Five preliminary positives could be confirmed today.

These include one taxi driver and one rehab bus driver who got tested under the free testing program by the Transport Department.

Tests for three taxi drivers are uncertain, Chan said.


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