Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong on the rise, officials urge vaccination

Residents of a neighbourhood queue up for a mandatory Covid-19 test in Kowloon, Hong Kong, on Jan 20, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's pandemic situation that showed signs of easing only more than one week ago has rebounded, with worried officials extending measures for another two weeks and urging the public to get vaccinated when their turn comes.

The Centre for Health Protection on Monday (March 1) said Hong Kong recorded 14 confirmed cases of Covid-19, of which 11 were local and five had no known transmission sources.

The tally has crossed the 11,000 mark, with the death toll rising to 200 since the pandemic started last year.

Under Secretary for Food and Health Chui Tak Yi on Monday said existing measures will be extended for another two weeks till Mar 17. These include public gatherings of not more than four people and dining-in services till 10pm. Beauty parlours and gyms, which reopened recently, can stay open.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan expressed concerns over the growing cluster at K11 Musea mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, stopping short of tightening measures.

The K11 Musea cluster has risen to more than 40 infections and the mall has been shut till Friday for disinfection and testing of staff - the first time a Hong Kong landlord has done so because of the coronavirus.

In her update on the city's vaccination programme on Monday, Prof Chan also said authorities will look into the case of an elderly man who had side effects after taking the Sinovac vaccine.

The 72-year-old man, with a history of hypertension, developed heart palpitations on Saturday within half an hour after the jab and was sent to the hospital. He is in a stable condition.

"I must emphasize again that a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine can provide a certain degree of protection from infection and minimise the damage to health caused by the virus," Prof Chan said.

Also at the short briefing was Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip, who oversees the city's free and voluntary vaccination roll-out.

He said more than 20,000 people have taken the Sinovac jabs since the inoculation started on Feb 26.

The Department of Health is to distribute 63,000 doses of the first batch of 270,000 Sinovac vaccines to 830 private doctors and clinics over three days starting Monday, he added.

Online appointments reopened on Monday for high-priority groups to book appointments for the Sinovac jabs.

As for the BioNTech vaccines that landed in the city on Saturday, these will be made available from March 10 with registrations to start on Wednesday. The government will open up over 140,000 spots at seven community vaccination centres for bookings.

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