The Hong Kong government announced a 14-day extension of social distancing measures until Thursday, May 7, to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This latest extension comes after authorities recorded zero new cases of the virus for the first time on Monday, April 20, since the start of the pandemic in early March. Hong Kong currently has 1025 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four associated deaths as of April 20.
Under the social distancing measures, bars, pubs, gyms, cinemas, mah-jong parlors, karaoke lounges, nightclubs, and other places of public entertainment will remain closed. In addition, beauty salons and massage parlors will also be shut. Gatherings of more than four people in both indoor and outdoor public venues such as restaurants is prohibited. Restaurants will be allowed to open but must ensure that their capacity does not exceed 50 percent. In addition, a maximum of four people is allowed per table, and tables must be distanced 1.5 m (4.9 ft) apart.
An existing entry ban on non-residents, including transit passengers, has been extended indefinitely as a precautionary measure. Travelers arriving from mainland China, Macau, or Taiwan are exempt from the restriction provided they have not traveled abroad in the 14 days prior. Meanwhile, all border crossings with China continue to remain closed indefinitely, apart from the Shenzhen Bay Checkpoint and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge. Additionally, all ferry crossings between China, Hong Kong, and Macau have been suspended.
Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over 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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