Hong Kong residents have been ready for months to guard against the risk of Covid-19 infection. Face masks and hand sanitizers are now necessary items for almost everyone when they go out, while people are also encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.
But in recent weeks, the daily increase in Covid-19 cases has slowed considerably, with no new cases registered on Monday. So is it time for Hong Kongers to relax a bit?
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What is the current transportation situation in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong has recorded 1,025 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic. There was an increase in cases from mid-March, with dozens of new infections identified every day, many of which were linked to Hong Kongers arriving from abroad. However, this situation has gradually improved. Since April 12, Hong Kong’s new daily case rate has dropped to one figure, ranging from one to five. No new cases were recorded on Monday, prompting health officials to drop their daily coronavirus press conference for the first time in almost three months.
But despite the improvement in the signs, it cannot yet be said that the situation is under total control. A locally infected case, the first since April 9, was reported on Sunday. Health officials said the discovery showed that there was still a silent transmission of the virus, which means that spread of infected people with no symptoms were taking place in the community.
Do Hong Kongers Respect Social Distancing Measures?
The Hong Kong government has put in place a series of social distancing measures to curb the spread of the virus since the end of March, including by gradually closing down places of entertainment such as game centers, cinemas, bars and lounges. karaoke and massage parlors. Restaurant tables, which can now accommodate up to four people, must be spaced at least 1.5 meters apart or separated by a partition. Gatherings of more than four people are also prohibited in any public space, except in 12 specific circumstances, such as funerals, public transport and health facilities.
The measures are scheduled to expire on Thursday, but experts believe they should be extended.
Despite the restrictions, crowds were still forming in country parks, shopping malls and other areas since the start of the Easter holidays, when the city recorded a dozen new cases a day. And despite the capacity limit, some restaurants also seemed busy at lunch and dinner.
The latest government statistics show that since the ban on assembling more than four people came into effect on March 29, more than 130 fixed tickets have been issued by the police. A total of 34 legal actions have also been brought against bars and restaurants that do not comply with the regulations.
Should Hong Kongers begin to relax and restrictive measures should be relaxed?
Experts said the public should remain vigilant despite the decline in the number of new cases. Professor David Hui Shu-cheong, respiratory medicine expert at Chinese University, said the situation could only be considered under control when there was no local infection for 28 days – two periods of Covid-19 incubation. At this point, the authorities may consider relaxing the restrictive measures, he said.
Hui says outdoor recreation facilities, which pose lower health risks, could be opened first, while bars and karaoke rooms, where crowds gather indoors, should be opened more late.
But even when businesses reopen, Hui said the public should continue to wear masks on public transportation and in crowded places, as a vaccine would be available in mid-2021 at the earliest, and there would still be a risk. . new cases in the community.
He said the city would see a new wave of infections also depend on the situation abroad, where many places have not yet reached stability.
The Center for Health Protection also urged the public on Monday to maintain social distance and avoid gatherings.
What other factors could influence decision-making regarding Hong Kong’s Covid-19 measures?
Most of the city’s population may still be at risk of infection before a vaccine is widely available for the coronavirus. Professor Yuen Kwok-yung of the University of Hong Kong had previously declared that the city would benefit from a “collective immunity”, indirect protection against the infection, only when 60 to 70% of the people would be immunized against it. virus. Until an antibody study is completed, the number of people infected and immune will remain unknown. Yuen also warned that Hong Kong could see more cases imported this summer from the southern hemisphere, where it would be winter.
How do other countries affected by coronavirus plan to recover their economy?
Some other countries are starting to resume economic activities after weeks of foreclosure. Germany, which had relatively lower death and Covid-19 transmission rates than the rest of Europe, began gradually opening stores on Monday, while schools are expected to reopen next month.
In the United States, directives to reopen the economy were also announced last week by President Donald Trump.