Hong Kong Extends Coronavirus Restrictions Despite Zero Local Cases

In this Feb. 7, 2020, file photo, people wearing masks attend a vigil for Chinese doctor Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded for warning about the outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Hong Kong. China has taken the highly unusual move of exonerating the doctor who was reprimanded for warning about …
AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Hong Kong health officials on Thursday extended most Chinese coronavirus social distancing restrictions in the city for an additional two weeks even though the metropolis has failed to record a single locally transmitted case of the disease since June 7, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.

The Hong Kong government on July 8 ordered all social distancing measures currently in effect in the city to remain in place for the next 14 days. The restrictions include “a four-person maximum for outdoor public gatherings” and “capacity limits and closing times for restaurants,” according to HKFP.

“Under social-distancing rules that took effect on June 24 and were due to expire, restaurants were allowed to operate at three-quarters capacity, provided staff had received at least one [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine dose and use of the government’s ‘Leave Home Safe’ risk-exposure app was made mandatory for customers,” the South China Morning Post reported on July 6.

“The city saw its last local infection [of the Chinese coronavirus] on June 7, after the government reclassified two cases originally thought to be local as genetically related to imported infections,” HKFP noted on Thursday. “One of the people involved worked at Hong Kong International Airport and another at a designated quarantine hotel.”

“The local epidemic situation has become stable, but the threat brought by mutant strains to the global epidemic situation cannot be neglected,” a spokesman for Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau told reporters on July 6, as quoted by the Post.

“If the vaccination rate in Hong Kong can be raised sooner to achieve herd immunity, the social-distancing measures can be further relaxed to allow Hong Kong to return to normality as soon as possible,” the spokesman added.

Hong Kong government officials locked down an entire residential building in the Tai Kok Tsui area of Hong Kong this week after a resident of the building tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus upon landing at an Australian airport late last month.

“The lockdown had been ordered after the [Hong Kong] Centre for Health Protection was notified by authorities in Australia that a man, 52, who lived in the building before he flew in from Hong Kong last month, has contracted the Delta strain of the coronavirus,” Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported on July 8.

Hong Kong health authorities sealed off the apartment block, home to over 1,200 residents, to conduct mass testing for the Chinese coronavirus, which they said they had completed by the morning of July 8.

“Health officials on Thursday morning announced that no coronavirus cases had been found after locking down the Chung Mei Building in Tai Kok Tsui overnight,” RTHK reported.

“As of 1:00 am about 1,200 residents had been tested. Compulsory testing was completed at about 7 o’clock on Thursday morning,” according to the public broadcaster.

“From 7:00 am [on July 8] people who had undergone testing and were able to present SMS notifications with negative test results or were wearing wristbands as proof of having undergone testing were allowed leave the building,” RTHK revealed.

“The government said staff had visited around 570 households. Around 100 households did not answer the door and officials said staff would follow up in due course,” the broadcaster added.

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