Community transmission of COVID-19 already taken place in Hong Kong: expert

Zhong Nanshan, China's top respiratory expert, has called for adopting stringent anti-virus measures in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as community transmission of COVID-19 has already taken place in the region.  

"The epidemic was well under control in Hong Kong from February to April. But every day since July 18, with a few exceptions, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases has soared above 100, with a peak of 145," Zhong said in an interview on Wednesday, adding that at present, the epidemic is still developing and community transmission of the disease has already taken place in Hong Kong.  

Hong Kong reported 118 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, marking the eighth straight day on which the daily new cases in Hong Kong surpassed 100. "The prevalence and death rate of COVID-19 in Hong Kong are approximately 37 per 100,000 and 0.7 per 100,000, respectively, which are not particularly high figures," Zhong said.  

"Thanks to the government and social distancing measures, the city has not seen the exponential growth of news cases seen in some Western countries," Zhong noted, recommending that Hong Kong should strengthen nucleic acid testing, especially screening for asymptomatic carriers, who may be highly contagious.  

"My advice is a Hong Kong-wide nucleic acid screening, instead of just in Wong Tai Sin District. Early detection and early isolation help reduce human-to-human transmission," he said.  

He also hoped that people engaged in the disease prevention and control as well as medical service in Hong Kong can have more communications with the Chinese mainland.  

Starting from Wednesday, dine-in services in restaurants have been prohibited and mask-wearing has been made compulsory in all public places in Hong Kong, both indoors and outdoors. The social gathering limit has also been lowered from four to two people.