Hong Kong Puzzled by New Coronavirus Wave

Hong Kong as soon as appeared like a mannequin for the way to management the coronavirus. Faculties had been open. Eating places and malls buzzed with crowds. Buses and trains operated as regular, with residents dutifully sporting face masks on board.However a brand new wave of infections in latest days has put the town on edge. Hospitals are actually seeing extra instances a day than they ever have throughout the pandemic. Extra necessary, well being officers are unable to find out the origin of many of those instances, regardless of having a strong contact tracing system in place.The federal government reported 73 instances on Monday, one of many highest totals for a single day for the reason that coronavirus emerged practically seven months in the past in mainland China. Briefly order, the virus has unfold throughout the town, infecting clerical workers at a government-run eye clinic, residents at a senior heart and cleansing staff on the airport.“The scenario may be very severe, and there’s no signal of it coming beneath management,” Carrie Lam, the chief govt of Hong Kong, stated on Sunday as she introduced new restrictions aimed toward slowing the unfold of the virus.As governments all over the world look to calm down guidelines put in place to fight the virus, Hong Kong’s expertise gives a cautionary story.Lifting social-distancing restrictions too swiftly, specialists say, can open the door to recent outbreaks. And with a vaccine nonetheless many months away, they are saying, even essentially the most vigilant nations are vulnerable to sudden surges in instances. China, Japan, South Korea and Australia are all grappling with outbreaks of the virus.“It’s actually, actually alarming,” David Hui, the director of the Stanley Ho Middle for Rising Infectious Illnesses on the Chinese language College of Hong Kong, stated of the latest outbreak. “When you loosen the restrictions an excessive amount of, you face a rebound.”The town had been extensively praised by worldwide specialists for its response to the pandemic. It moved rapidly to tighten its borders and impose quarantine guidelines, containing outbreaks traced first to vacationers from mainland China after which to Hong Kong residents coming back from Europe and the US.However the newest outbreak has puzzled high well being specialists.Officers have thus far been unable to hint how a big variety of individuals caught the virus, a worrisome signal, epidemiologists say, that makes it tougher to interrupt the chain of transmission. Most individuals who examined optimistic for the virus haven’t traveled and haven’t been linked to identified clusters.Dr. Hui stated that earlier outbreaks in Hong Kong had been successfully contained earlier than they might unfold locally unchecked. “You would simply isolate shut contacts, quarantine them and cease the outbreak,” he stated. This time, he stated, “it’s fairly tough as a result of we had a variety of silent transmission that has entered Hong Kong already.”Many residents have attributed the outbreak to individuals who have entered Hong Kong not too long ago with out present process the usual 14-day quarantine. They’ve urged the federal government to cease granting exemptions to some enterprise vacationers and airplane pilots, however the authorities, which is battling a recession, has defended the exemptions as crucial.After easing restrictions on every day life in latest weeks, Hong Kong officers are as soon as once more imposing robust measures aimed toward slowing the unfold of the virus. Masks are required indoors in public areas, and eating at eating places after 6 p.m. is banned. The federal government has ordered gyms, film theaters and swimming swimming pools to shut as soon as once more. About 40 p.c of presidency staff have been requested to remain house.Chuang Shuk-kwan, a high well being official, didn’t rule out the potential of imposing a curfew or a lockdown if the variety of instances grew exponentially. “After all, we hope the scenario wouldn’t attain that stage,” Dr. Chuang stated at a information convention on Monday.The federal government is increasing its testing of residents, particularly of these thought of to be at a excessive danger of contracting the virus, together with older adults, taxi drivers and restaurant staff. Officers say they’re processing about 10,000 exams a day, and well being staff have distributed testing kits in residential compounds the place clusters have emerged.Medical staff say they fear that an inflow of coronavirus sufferers might overwhelm the town’s crowded hospitals. Well being officers stated on Monday that 71 p.c of the 1,700 beds in isolation wards within the metropolis’s hospitals had been already in use. Most coronavirus sufferers, nonetheless, are in secure situation, with solely 36 thought of to be critically or critically unwell. A dozen individuals have died from the virus throughout the pandemic.Including to the pressure, many isolation wards in Hong Kong are crowded with younger sufferers who present no signs of the virus however are required to remain till they take a look at damaging. Docs fear this might result in a scarcity of house for older sufferers or these with extra extreme signs who want pressing medical consideration.Mrs. Lam, Hong Kong’s chief, stated Sunday that the authorities had been planning to make use of some 300 beds at a resort to isolate sufferers with delicate signs. The federal government has stated it could construct a big quarantine heart by the tip of the yr to accommodate 2,000 individuals, which might assist ease overcrowding if instances rise once more later within the yr when the temperature drops.As hospitals transfer swiftly to transform amenities to deal with solely individuals with the coronavirus, an additional surge in such instances might go away sufferers with different circumstances struggling, specialists stated.Arisina Ma, the president of the Hong Kong Public Docs Affiliation, stated some sufferers with different circumstances have waited months for procedures and may not have the ability to search therapy if coronavirus instances proceed to rise.“We now have quarantine amenities, however the stress on our hospital companies remains to be great,” she stated. “It appears our well being care system has been paralyzed by Covid.”

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