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HK logs 3.3k COVID-19 cases

The Centre for Health Protection today said it is investigating 3,362 additional locally acquired COVID-19 cases, of which 493 were identified through nucleic acid tests and 2,869 via rapid antigen tests.   Separately, 118 imported cases were detected.   Furthermore, seven residential care homes for the elderly and one for disabled people logged nine cases involving their residents.   The Hospital Authority reported that 33 patients passed away in public hospitals. According to a preliminary analysis, the cause of death for 13 patients was related to COVID-19, while that of the remaining 20 patients was unrelated.   It also registered six more critical cases, bringing the number of patients in critical condition to 99.   As there were positive sewage test results with relatively high viral loads in several areas of Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Kowloon City districts, the respective district offices will distribute COVID-19 rapid test kits to relevant residents as well as cleaning

Social distancing measures extended

The Government today announced the social distancing measures currently in place will be maintained until March 17.   The Food & Health Bureau said the COVID-19 epidemic situation in Hong Kong remains volatile since the gradual and orderly relaxation of social distancing measures on February 18.   It pointed out that a number of confirmed cases were found in certain districts over a short period of time, showing that silent transmission in the community is still active.   Taking into account the latest public health risk assessment, the Government will maintain all requirements and restrictions applicable to catering businesses and scheduled premises.   Given the recent cluster in eateries, the Government will require catering business premises to dedicate staff for clearing used utensils and cleaning and disinfecting used tables and partitions to reduce the relevant infection risk.   If this arrangement is not practicable, staff carrying out the aforementioned duties must adopt hand hygiene measures before switching to perform other duties and as necessary during each round of cleaning duties.   Such measures include using alcohol-based hand sanitisers, washing hands or changing gloves.   Bathhouses, party rooms, clubs or nightclubs, karaoke establishments, mahjong-tin kau premises and swimming pools will remain closed.   Unless exempted, the prohibition on group gatherings of more than four people in public places will continue.   The requirement for wearing a mask at all times when on public transport and in public places will also remain in effect.   The bureau explained that the existing arrangement for regular COVID-19 testing of staff of catering businesses and scheduled premises will continue to help break the silent transmission chain in the community promptly.   It noted that more than 30,000 quotas are available at community testing centres daily, and the booking rate for the coming seven days is only about 27%.   Employees of the construction sector and staff of catering businesses and scheduled premises can receive free testing with online booking.   The directions and specifications under three relevant regulations have been gazetted.
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