This photo captures people wearing face masks crossing a road in Hong Kong, March 1, 2021. (LO PING FAI / XINHUA)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government announced Tuesday it will extend most of the city’s social distancing measures for another 14 days, as the city reported 13 new imported COVID-19 cases, including two involving a variant strain.
A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said the decision to extend the social distancing rules was made due to the high transmissibility of COVID-19 mutant strains and the low vaccination rate of the elderly in Hong Kong
In a statement, a spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said the decision to extend the rules until Oct 13 was made due to the high transmissibility of COVID-19 mutant strains and the low vaccination rate of the elderly in Hong Kong.
"Given the high transmissibility of the mutant strains and the relatively low vaccination rate of the elderly, it is worrying that the elderly will be subject to extremely high risks of getting seriously ill and death if there is a fifth wave of epidemic," reads the statement.
The spokesman urged the public, especially the elderly and chronic patients, to get vaccinated before a fifth wave hits the city.
Among the social measures that will be extended include the mandatory mask-wearing requirement in most public places, and a curb on not more than four people allowed in gatherings outdoors.
Meanwhile, the spokesman said the maximum number of people allowed per banquet at catering premises registered as type D mode of operation will be relaxed to 240.
Under that mode of operation, all staff personnel working at those premises must be fully vaccinated and at least two-thirds of the customers must have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Two cases involving variant strain
In a separate statement, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said Tuesday's new cases included two women and one boy who traveled from Morocco, three men who arrived from the US, Italy and Kenya, respectively, and another man who came from India and the United Arab Emirates.
All but the boy have been fully vaccinated, the CHP said, adding that the city's tally now stood at 12,209.
The Centre for Health Protection said two men who arrived from overseas, aged 37 and 39, tested positive for the L452R mutant strain
The male patient who came from Italy, 37, and the other patient who arrived from India and the UAE, aged 39, tested positive for the L452R mutant strain, according to the CHP. Both of them, however, did not carry the N501Y or E484K mutant genes.
According to the CHP, the 37-year-old man lives at Jones Hive, 8 Jones Street, Causeway Bay. He works at 23/F, Lee Garden Three, 1 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay, and last went to work on Sept 10.
Meanwhile, the 39-year-old male patient lives at Block C, Hankow Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui. He works at Shop 9, G/F, CFC Tower, 22-28 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.
"As a prudent measure, the places where they resided, worked and visited in Hong Kong during the incubation periods have been included in a compulsory testing notice (CTN)," the CHP said.
The CHP also said it was investigating a non-locally confirmed case involving a 37-year-old woman who traveled to Macao by bus
Qatar Airways flights from Doha banned
The CHP also said it was investigating a non-locally confirmed case involving a 37-year-old woman, who traveled to Macao by bus via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on Sept 19.
Her specimen collected on Sept 26 in Macao tested positive for COVID-19.
The woman, who lives at Block 3, The Zenith, 258 Queen's Road East, has been fully vaccinated.
As a prudent measure, her block of residence will be included in a CTN, the CHP said.
Separately, the CHP said in its statement that passenger flight QR818 operated by Qatar Airways, which arrived from Doha, Qatar, on Sept 26 had four passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.
As a result, Qatar Airways flights from Doha will be barred from landing in Hong Kong starting Tuesday until Oct 11, the CHP said.
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