Hong Kong [China], November 20 (ANI): Hong Kong's top infectious disease experts on Thursday (local time) warned the government that the fourth wave of COVID-19 has begun in the city and called for urgent action.
This came after the health officials here reported over 30 confirmed and preliminary infections across various districts and sectors, Victor Ting and Elizabeth Cheung reported for South China Morning Post.
The experts advised that all non-essential indoor gatherings should be postponed with immediate effect and the public should be prepared to face school closures and to work from home again if the caseload doubles or triples in the next few days.
Professor David Hui Shu-Cheong, Chinese University Respiratory Medicine specialist and a government adviser for COVID-19, said that he believed Hong Kong had entered its fourth wave due to a spike in both overall and untraceable cases, which also happened in the second and third waves.
The city was hit by its first two waves of infection from late January until June, and the third one from July. While cases fell in September, there have been signs of a rising trend in recent weeks.
"Given the extensive and diffuse pattern recently confirmed cases are distributed, Hong Kong would have to be incredibly lucky to dodge an imminent fourth wave...We are in a race against time with the virus spreading out of control," said University of Hong Kong (HKU) Faculty of Medicine dean Professor Gabriel Leung.
Dr Wong Ka-hing, controller of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP), noted that the situation is "increasingly worrying" while adding, "For the first time, the government is comprehensively reviewing its social distancing measures."
There are now different sources of infection in various districts, suggesting that there are transmissions in the community, South China Morning Post quoted Dr Chuang Shuk-Kwan as saying.
"If there is an active transmission, together with a lowered guard on vigilance, there could be an exponential growth in cases. We are very worried," she said while adding that she had informed that an infection cluster was "potentially developing" at Starlight Dance Club, where one confirmed patient and five others who preliminarily tested positive had visited previously.
South China Morning Post also reported that Ecuador and Germany would also be added to the city's list of high-risk countries, joining 15 others, as new arrangements for arrivals from the two countries will come into effect on November 28. The new regulations state that travellers will need to have a negative COVID-19 test result before coming here along with hotel quarantine for foreign arrivals.
Hong Kong's official COVID-19 tally stood at 5,491 as of Thursday, with 108 related deaths. (ANI)