A ban on gatherings of more than 50 people in Hong Kong, implemented in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, was extended by two weeks on Tuesday, June 30, until July 14. The restriction, which was eased two weeks ago from an eight-person limit for public gatherings, had been under review, but authorities have been hesitant to lift the ban.
The move came as the Hong Kong government announced the further easing of several other COVID-19-related social distancing measures on Tuesday. Seating capacity at bars, restaurants, cinemas, and entertainment venues, which had been limited to 50 percent since reopening at the beginning of June, will be expanded to 80 percent from Friday, July 3. Plans for the easing of travel restrictions to Macau and Guangdong via a virus screening scheme are also expected to be announced in the coming days.
Hong Kong has seen a significant reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, with no new domestic infections identified in the last 17 days. However, several imported cases among travelers entering the territory have been confirmed during this period.
A mandatory 14-day quarantine period remains in place for travelers arriving from mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan until at least Tuesday, July 7, while quarantine requirements for those arriving from all other destinations will remain in place until September 18.
As of June 30, health authorities have confirmed 1205 COVID-19 cases and seven associated deaths in Hong Kong. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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