Last updated on October 18, 2021.
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Hong Kong has been facing a third wave of COVID-19 case since early July. It has led to increased government measures and worries about the impact of the coronavirus on the Hong Kong society and economy.
Here is a practical guide with everything you need to know about the COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong.
When did Hong Kong’s third wave start?
With a three-week streak of zero local COVID-19 cases, a sudden surge in infection cases started on July 5 when a cook in a local restaurant was infected which led to a cluster infection in an elderly home and some restaurants. On July 4, a pilot had returned from Kazakhstan with respiratory symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19.
What caused COVID-19’s third wave in Hong Kong?
Various factors have been identified as explanations for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong, such as relaxing Hong Kong’s border measures, and reduced public vigilance.
1. Loopholes in border measures
In early May, the government relaxed travel restrictions on travellers from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan under Cap. 599C. Some quarantine orders were also cancelled if the traveller fulfilled certain criteria which also exposed the city to the risk of imported cases.
2. Mask not being mandatory
Although most people in Hong Kong wear masks in public places, a lot of residents may have lowered their guard as the number of confirmed cases went down. As there were no mask rules before, it was hard to ensure everyone is doing enough to prevent new cases.
3. Relaxed social distancing policies
Policies were slowly relaxed during May and June as the number of cases went down and achieved zero local cases for more than 2 weeks. School resumed classes and public gatherings were allowed again.
How many COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong?
For daily updates and news about the current COVID-19 situation in Hong Kong including number of cases, deaths, government policies, as well as global developments, check Alea’s Daily Update.
What new measures have been taken to fight this third wave?
1. Social Distancing RulES
Since July 14: No dine-in from 6 pm to 4:59 am, public gatherings limited to 4 people, 12 types of establishments (amusement game centres, fitness centres, places of public entertainment, beauty parlours, massage establishments, mahjong tin tau premises, bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or night clubs, karaoke establishments) closed.
Since July 19: 180,000 civil servants work from home.
2. Mask Rule
Since July 22: Masks are now mandatory in any indoor places and public transport (with a HK$5,000 fine for people found without wearing a mask)
3. Tighter Border Measures
July 8: Sea and aircrew members are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before entering the city
July 22: It was announced that the US and Kazakhstan joined the list of high-risk countries (which already included Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, South Africa, Philippines and Indonesia). All Hong Kong residents returning from the US and Kazakhstan will therefore be required to quarantine in hotels rather than at home, and present proof they are free from COVID-19, from July 29.
4. Vaccine Procurement
The government is deciding on buying vaccines developed by researchers at Oxford University and in mainland China.
What Should You Do?
- Stay vigilant, maintain good personal hygiene (always wear a surgical mask and wash hands frequently) and limit social events.
- If you suspect that you may have signs of inflection (recent travel history/in contact with confirmed cases), you may get a COVID-19 Test.
- Avoid going to buildings with confirmed/probable cases of COVID-19.
- Keep an eye on the local situation and the latest government policies.
Microbiology expert Professor Yuen Kwok-yung warned that Hong Kong may need a virtual lockdown if confirmed cases continue to surge. With the rise in local cases, it is expected that wearing a mask, handwashing and social distancing will be long-term measures.