Coronavirus: HK faces 82 more cases, day after Carrie Lam unveiled ‘zero infections’ target

27-Nov-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong confirmed 81 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, a day after the city’s leader unveiled an ambitious “zero infections” target in her annual policy address, triggering a fierce debate on whether universal mandatory testing and a lockdown should be used to reach that goal.

A dancing club cluster, the city’s largest to date, grew by another 59 cases, taking the total in the group to 311. Thirteen cases were locally transmitted and of an unknown source, while six were imported.

The city has recorded 5,947 confirmed infections so far, with 108 related deaths. More than 60 preliminary positive cases were also reported on Thursday.

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The latest daily figure marked the third straight day of 80 or more confirmed infections.

Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, revealed at a regular press briefing that people who had visited seven more locations linked to the cluster, including Lucky Dragon restaurant in Shek Kip Mei and Bandstage Live Music in Wong Tai Sin, would need to take a Covid-19 test in the next few days.

“It seems many people had gone to Bandstage Live Music on the night of November 20, while some performers who had also been to other dance venues were confirmed. Other places like some restaurants had dance gatherings, so there could be some transmissions there,” Chuang said.

A 77-year-old private doctor who last worked at his clinic in Fu Shun House near Choi Hung after going to a dance gathering was among the new patients in the cluster.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told the Legislative Council on Wednesday that the government would “spare no effort in achieving zero infections”, an aim she said could not be achieved without public cooperation.

But Lam later sought to play down the ambitious target, telling an afternoon press conference that she mentioned it in her address to try and reassure the public.

“The definition of ‘zero infection’ depends on who you ask,” she said.

Her remarks reignited and intensified the debate on the city’s priorities when it came to beating the virus.

Her predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, weighed in and piled more pressure on her in a Facebook post on Thursday, telling her to face down her critics and “firmly tell” Hongkongers to achieve zero infections.

“Do it or die,” the former chief executive said bluntly, as he reiterated the pro-establishment camp’s long-standing demand to get new infections to zero to reopen land borders with mainland China and return local businesses to normality.

Mainland authorities had previously demanded zero infections as a precondition to reopen borders.

Alluding to the return of “large-scale universal community testing” on Wednesday, Lam admitted mandatory testing on the whole population would require a month-long citywide lockdown, something residents were unlikely to accept.

She said she would not rule out partial lockdown if there was an outbreak in a district or involving a particular group of people.

The city has recorded 5,866 confirmed infections so far, with 108 related deaths. More than 340 people are still in hospital with Covid-19.


Category: Hong Kong

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