Pedestrians walk along the near-deserted Lan Kwai Fong district at night during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Central district of Hong Kong, on March 28, 2020. (PAUL YEUNG/BLOOMBERG)
HONG KONG - Hong Kong will suspend all face-to-face classes at kindergartens, primary and secondary schools as the city saw 115 new coronavirus cases on Sunday.
The suspension will start on Wednesday, according to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government. Schools will remain shut until the Christmas holidays, suggesting students won’t return until 2021.
In a press briefing on Sunday afternoon, Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said the 115 new infections included six imported cases and 109 local infections, of which 24 were of unknown origin.
Sunday's figure was up from Saturday’s 84 and the highest since Aug 1, when 125 cases were reported. It compares with the July 30 record of 149.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said the new infections included six imported cases and 109 local infections, including 24 of unknown origin
Chuang added that about 50 more patients tested preliminarily positive.
“The rising trend is very alarming. It seems the situation of this wave is more widespread than the third wave. People of different backgrounds got infected,” Chuang said.
She said of the dance cluster had 62 new cases, bringing the total number of patients linked to it to 479.
Since late January, 6,239 people in Hong Kong have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, of whom 109 have died of the disease.
Chuang also mentioned three restaurants--Michelin-star restaurant 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Central, Stellar House in Wan Chai and Chuen Cheung Kui in Sheung Wan--where around 10 staff members and patrons had tested positive.
“Whenever both staff and patrons are involved, we’re really concerned..There might be transmission involved,” she said.
Chuang said the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will issue a notice Monday requiring mandatory testing to those who have been to the three restaurants since the middle of November.
According to the Hospital Authority, 624 patients were being treated in hospitals as of Sunday, including 11 in critical condition and three in serious condition.
Care home staff
Meanwhile, the HKSAR government will require residential care home staff to undergo compulsory COVID-19 testing soon and the aim is for them to be tested once a week, said Secretary for Labour & Welfare Law Chi-kwong.
“That is the instruction we will be giving to the residential service operators. We will see how it goes. Anyway, this is the first time. The aim is in the long run it will be once every week and also only those who have a valid negative test will be able to go back to work,” Law said.
“Under the current regulations, if they are required to do the COVID-19 test but they do not, they are violating the regulations and will have a penalty of a HK$2,000 fine,” he said.
“They will also be given an order to do it within a given number of days and if they do not, the penalty will be even more severe. It will be like a maximum penalty of HK$25,000 and also imprisonment,” he added.
On Saturday night, the FEHD inspected catering premises in Wong Tai Sin and Kwai Tsing districts to remind their owners and members of the public to strictly follow anti-epidemic regulations.
The FEHD said its officers and the police conducted joint operations in Yuk Wah Crescent in Wong Tai Sin District and Kau Wah Keng in Kwai Tsing Distric after also inspecting catering premises in Yuen Long town centre on Friday night until early Saturday morning.
They inspected 51 catering premises and a total of 28 verbal warnings were given.
The FEHD also decided to prosecute two catering business operators at Yuk Wa Crescent in Wong Tai Sin District for violating the Food Business Regulation by extending business area illegally and issued fixed penalty notices to 15 persons in Yuen Long town centre for violating the requirement on group gatherings.
With inputs from Agencies
HONG KONG NEWS