Hong Kong to shut premises, order more to go for Covid-19 testing

HONG KONG – The government will force the closure of more premises even as it orders mandatory testing for people who this month have been to seven more dance studios, as it moves to control the outbreak initially linked to 14 studios.

Speaking ahead of her executive council meeting, Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday (Nov 24) morning said the cluster outbreak is worrying and the government will move to close certain premises.

Details are to be announced later Tuesday.

“We will focus on closing certain premises. These premises are, in general, indoors.

“Most of them involve activities where you would take your mask off and there is also (a) crowd gathering and in the crowd gathering activities, there will be some personal contact and these activities are for leisure only.

“We think that in view of the situation, these premises will have to be closed,” she said.

The impending move comes as the dance studio cluster balloons to 132 patients, what Mrs Lam said was the largest outbreak since the pandemic swept the city.

The government on Tuesday issued a notice to say that the seven venues spanning across the city in Mei Foo, Aberdeen, Sha Tin and Tsim Sha Tsui are in addition to a list of 14 dance studios linked to the current cluster.

Visitors to the seven studios are given until Thursday (Nov 26) to get tested, while those who visited the 14 dance clubs were given till end Tuesday to submit samples for testing.

On Monday, Hong Kong recorded 73 new confirmed cases, of which 63 were local. This brings the tally to more than 5,700, including 108 deaths.

Separately, the chief executive said there are 200 new initiatives proposed this year in her fourth policy address to be delivered on Wednesday.

“Because of the tight financial situation of the government – we’ve had the budget and three rounds of anti-epidemic funds – we’ve already used HK$310 billion ($53.8 billion). That may be the deficit of the government this year.

“We would like to make sure of reforms, streamlining synergy to implement these new initiatives without using additional monetary resources,” Mrs Lam said.

Some 700 initiatives were proposed the past three years with 95 per cent completed or in progress, she noted, adding that the remaining five per cent will be moved along as parliament picks up speed.

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