Pedestrians walk past a residential building complex in Hong Kong on May 28, 2021. (ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong government extended most of its social distancing rules for two weeks while it cordoned off a building in Tai Kok Tsui on Wednesday night as part of an investigation into a COVID-19 variant case involving a man who had flown to Australia.
In a statement, the government said most the existing virus curbs will remain in place until July 21 although some of the regulations were relaxed.
The government eased the rules for cinemas, performance venues and museums, which will be allowed to fill up to 85 percent of their normal seating capacity
“The local epidemic situation has become stable, but the threat brought by mutant strains to the global epidemic situation cannot be neglected,” a Food and Health Bureau spokesman was quoted as saying in the statement.
“If the vaccination rate in Hong Kong can be raised sooner to achieve herd immunity, the social distancing measures can be further relaxed to allow Hong Kong to return to normality as soon as possible. We call on the public again to receive vaccination as early as possible,” he added.
The government eased the rules for cinemas, performance venues and museums, which will be allowed to fill up to 85 percent of their normal seating capacity.
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The maximum number of persons allowed in the spectator stands of public skating rinks, sports premises and swimming pools will also be relaxed to 85 percent of their seating capacity.
The government added that members of the public who use indoor sports facilities where all staff and users have been fully vaccinated are exempted from wearing face masks.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Health Protection said in a statement that Australian health authorities notified it on Wednesday of a confirmed case in Australia involving a 52-year-old man from Hong Kong who tested positive for the L452R mutant strain.
“The government made a restriction-testing declaration for the residential building in Tai Kok Tsui where the male patient lived before leaving Hong Kong,” the statement reads.
The patient had stayed at Chung Mei Building, 149-157 Tai Kok Tsui Road. He boarded flight TR981 on June 26 for transit in Singapore, where he stayed for several hours before taking flight TR18 the next day to Melbourne.
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His pre-departure test result on June 24 was negative but he subsequently tested positive for the virus on June 29. He had no symptoms.
The CHP said the patient was employed at 21/F, Tower 1, Kowloon Commerce Centre in Kwai Chung and last reported for work on June 8.
Chung Mei Building was cordoned off at around 7 pm while its residents were required to undergo compulsory testing.
Residents will still have to undergo virus tests on the third, seventh, 12th and 19th day since the case was announced Wednesday.