Coronavirus: worker at mainland agency among seven new Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong

Victor Ting
·3-min read

More than a dozen people have been placed in quarantine in Hong Kong after an employee of an agency linked to Beijing’s liaison office was among seven new Covid-19 infections on Friday, the Post understands.

The 44-year-old man lived in North Point and worked at the Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan, according to Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch. His infection was discovered during regular testing by his company.

The central government’s liaison office has a branch in the West Tower of Shun Tak Centre in Sheung Wan, in addition to its main headquarters in Sai Ying Pun.

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The centre said the man had not left the city during the two week incubation period of the virus but was in Shenzhen from late September to early this month. He returned to the city through the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint on October 6 and was exempted from quarantine. He tested negative three days later.

Eleven colleagues who sat near him and those who used the same pantry will be sent to a government quarantine camp. The other workers will undergo a second test. The liaison office declined to comment.

The latest infection figure marked a full week of daily cases staying under 10, and social-distancing restrictions have been further eased just ahead of Halloween. Restaurants are allowed to increase capacity and bars and pubs to serve customers for two more hours, until 2am.

But Chuang urged revellers to enjoy the festivities in a “safe manner”.

“Don’t have everyone remove their masks and talk loudly as they mix and mingle together,” Chuang said. “Avoiding these will reduce risks.”

Six people can sit together at restaurant tables, up from four. Photo: Winson Wong
Six people can sit together at restaurant tables, up from four. Photo: Winson Wong

The six imported cases, involving arrivals from India, Pakistan and the Philippines, were discovered during quarantine. The latest infections pushed the city’s tally to 5,320 cases, with 105 related deaths.

Although the number of local cases has trended down in recent weeks, infectious disease expert Dr Leung Chi-chiu warned the situation remained unstable.

“Although the number of [local cases with an unknown source of infection] in October is lower than that in July, the epidemic has still not reached a controlled stage,” he said.

More than 20 untraceable cases have emerged this month, compared to just a handful during May and June, Leung noted.

Under the relaxed social-distancing rules, capacity limits have been increased from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for restaurants, bars and pubs, nightclubs, swimming pools and public entertainment venues such as theme parks and museums.

Six people can sit together at restaurant tables, up from four, while the limit for bars and pubs has risen from two to four.

Beaches to reopen, more people allowed together in restaurants, bars, as social-distancing rules eased

Dine-in services and bars and pubs can operate until 2am, an extension from midnight. But customers must wear a mask when not seated and are not allowed to eat or drink away from tables.

But the ban on public gatherings larger than four, mandatory mask-wearing on public transport, and other social-distancing rules will remain in place until at least next Thursday.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said public beaches would reopen on Tuesday, after shutting more than three months ago, but associated barbecue facilities will stay closed.

The government was also considering allowing family visits at public rehabilitation and non-emergency hospitals, said the Hospital Authority’s chief manager for quality and standards Dr Lau Ka-hin, although no timetable was given. Most of the patients suffer from chronic illnesses and are hospital-bound for extended periods.

The authority last month allowed men back into maternity wards to be by the side of their partners during childbirth.

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