Signs of rise in cases spur pent-up consumption fear

Top News | Wallis Wang 22 Feb 2021

Government adviser Gabriel Leung Cheuk-wai warned people against rushing out in "retaliatory consumption" following the relaxation of epidemic measures, saying indicators point to a rise in cases.

This comes as Hong Kong reported 20 new cases yesterday, up from 15 on Saturday.

The live reproduction rate - an indicator the University of Hong Kong uses to predict changes in infection numbers - for Covid-19 had risen for four consecutive days, Leung said yesterday.

Leung, who is the dean of HKU's medical faculty, expressed concerns the fourth wave would not end if people rushed out following the reopening of premises including entertainment venues, beauty parlors, and gyms, as well as the extension of dine-in hours for restaurants from last Thursday.

Leung also urged people to get vaccinated, but reminded them to choose the vaccine that is most suitable for their physical condition.

Of the 20 cases yesterday, 19 are local and one was imported from India, taking Hong Kong's tally to 10,869 with 197 deaths. More than 10 people tested preliminary positive for the virus.

Of the 19 local cases, 13 were linked to previous cases and six were untraceable, including a 69-year-old red minibus driver.

The Centre for Health Protection's Chuang Shuk-kwan said the driver works in the mornings and developed symptoms on February 18. Another driver of the same minibus has been deemed a close contact and will be quarantined.

The first minibus driver usually went to Sheung Moon Chinese Cuisine restaurant in Tsuen Wan for meals, she added.

A Chow Tai Fook salesman who works at the jewelry chain's Yau Ma Tei and Sheung Wan branches also worked during the infectious period, but the risk of transmission is low as staff and customers wore masks, Chuang said.

An unknown source patient lives in Sceneway Garden block 1 in Lam Tin, which was subjected to mandatory testing on February 17.

Residents in five other buildings - Luen Yan House in Kwai Chung, Noble Hill Tower 5 in Sheung Shui, High Block Tsui Nam House in Kwun Tong, Tai Hong Wai in Yuen Long, and 48 Fuk Wa Street in Sham Shui Po - will be subject to mandatory tests.

Residents in Sheung Shun House in Tseung Kwan O and Ching Yi House in Wong Tai Sin will also have to undergo mandatory tests, as two cases were found in the buildings.

Of the 13 cases linked to previous cases, four were linked to Caritas Lok Yi School special needs school for severely mentally handicapped children aged six to 18 in Sai Wan Ho.

They comprise two parents, one student and one staff member. Two other school workers tested preliminary positive.

Forty staffers and 21 students at the school will be quarantined.

Separately, an IT staffer at Midland Holdings' Lai Chi Kok office tested preliminary positive. Nearly 100 staffers will be quarantined, as another IT staff member in the same office tested positive earlier, Chuang said.

Meanwhile, more than 70 bars closed during the Lunar New Year, taking the number to more than 210, according to the Hong Kong Bar & Club Association.

Its vice-president, Chin Chun-wing, said many bars had closed due to financial problems and urged the government to allow bars to reopen or provide each bar with HK$500,000 in aid.

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