Hong Kong records zero local coronavirus cases for second straight day, though preliminary-positive tests loom

Victor Ting
·4-min read

Hong Kong recorded a single imported coronavirus case on Sunday – its lowest daily total in more than five months – though authorities were investigating 10 preliminary-positive tests that were likely to halt the city’s two-day streak of zero confirmed local infections.

Imported from Indonesia, the sole confirmed case took the total local tally to 11,446, with 205 related deaths. The last time Hong Kong reported one or fewer Covid-19 cases was on October 14 – when none were detected – after the city’s third wave of infections had subsided.

However, 10 preliminary-positive cases were identified on Sunday, including a social sciences student at Baptist University who recently attended two lectures on campus, according to a source.

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The university student, who is also a youth football coach, attended a practice session last Sunday, prompting at least 10 Primary One and Primary Two team members from Pun U Association Wah Yan Primary School to be ordered into mandatory quarantine as close contacts.

The primary school said that although the practice was not organised by them, mask-wearing was in place, and three other coaches who subsequently tested negative would also be undergoing quarantine.

On Sunday, government coronavirus expert Professor David Hui Shu-cheong said the city needed to be “extra careful” as it approached a zero-infection rate, adding residents should steel their nerves a bit longer and maintain social distancing during the upcoming five-day Easter holiday.

“For the long-term good, I think we should persist a bit longer … If there are no local cases for two incubation periods of the virus [28 days], that means all transmission chains in the community have been broken,” the Chinese University respiratory medicine expert told a TV programme.

“At least wait seven to 10 days before relaxing more measures.”

Hui said he believed premises with fewer high-risk factors such as eating and drinking should be the first to have regulations relaxed, including allowing more patrons into cinemas, which are currently limited to 50 per cent capacity.

Another government Covid-19 expert, Hong Kong University’s Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, expressed similar sentiments, calling the current level of infections a “strategically important” period for wiping out the virus completely.

Meanwhile, the Hospital Authority’s temporary Covid-19 ward on Lantau Island apologised on Sunday for mistakenly placing a 45-year-old woman carrying a mutated strain of the illness into a cubicle with four other positive patients for about 20 minutes, even though her variant test results were still pending.

The authority said solitary isolation and mutation tests had been arranged for the four patients as a precautionary measure, but maintained the infection risks were “very low” as the beds in the cubicle were spaced out and separated by curtains.

Separately, Hong Kong is expected to resume its BioNTech vaccination roll-out within the week after an investigation into faulty packaging found no systemic errors that would require an extended suspension of the programme.

Fosun Pharma, the agent distributing BioNTech jabs in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, said on Sunday that their ongoing investigation had “confirmed the issue was solely related to vaccine primary packaging in combination with shipping conditions”, one day after the city’s government cited a similar finding from the company.

The Shanghai-based pharmaceutical company also maintained that the manufacturing process and quality of the BioNTech jabs were “not in question”, and said it would ship replacement vaccines as soon as possible, pending the completion of the investigation.

More than 462,000 doses of vaccine have been administered since the city began its mass inoculation campaign on February 26. Some 292,600 people have received the first dose of the mainland-produced Sinovac vaccine, with about 18,500 of those also having received their second dose. About 151,300 people, meanwhile, have taken their first dose of the BioNTech vaccine.

Additional reporting by Lilian Cheng and Tony Cheung

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