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HK experts say phased lifting of social distancing feasible

/ 12:12 PM May 04, 2020

A woman wears a face mask as she walks across a zebra crossing in Hong Kong on April 28, 2020. ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP via China Daily/Asia News Network

HONG KONG – Medical experts said the city has met the conditions for relaxing some social distancing rules as no new infections of COVID-19 was reported in the city on Sunday, which was also the 14th straight day without new cases of local transmission.

The city’s tally of infections remains at 1,039, with the latest confirmed cases reported on Friday. The two patients are returnees from Pakistan who arrived in Hong Kong via a government-chartered flight Thursday evening.

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During a television interview on Sunday, leading microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung said partial relaxation of social distancing restrictions seems feasible under current circumstances.

The government had earlier announced the ban on the gatherings of more than four people and required some entertainment venues including mahjong parlors, bars and karaoke lounges to shut doors to control the spread of the deadly disease.

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Talking on the restrictions, Yuen warned against relaxing all of them at once. He suggested that the government review current anti-epidemic measures and identify high-risk venues and ways to reduce transmission risks at those places.

Keiji Fukuda, director at the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong, said on Saturday that it is an appropriate time for a phased lifting of Hong Kong’s social distancing restrictions.

Given that spread of the novel coronavirus in Hong Kong has slowed down, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee on Saturday revealed the government is mulling over relaxing the ban on groups of more than four people per table in restaurants.

In a television interview, Chan said the final decision on the relaxation of social distancing rules will be made in the next couple of days.

Most of the city’s more than 170,000 civil servants will return to their office on Monday and public services will gradually resume to normal. Some of outdoor facilities, including tennis courts and jogging tracks, will also reopen to the public next week.

The Center for Health Protection continued to call on residents to maintain social distancing and avoid non-essential travel as the outbreak in some other countries and regions remain severe.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus outbreak, Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, Hong Kong, social distancing
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