Don’t panic over Kennedy Town outbreak: expert

Top microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung on Friday sought to allay concerns over a potential Covid-19 outbreak in Kennedy Town, where sewage samples have tested positive for the virus and infections have emerged, saying there’s no need for people to panic.

Yuen, one of the advisers on the government’s coronavirus strategy, said it’s estimated that more than 90 percent of the city’s population have immunity against the virus as they have either been infected or vaccinated.

He said Hong Kong has already built up a barrier against serious coronavirus cases.

He told a Commercial Radio programme that it’s fine for people to visit the district for lunch as long as they are vaccinated.

“You can no longer eliminate or eradicate [Covid-19], so you enter into another stage. We control it. It means that so long as you can keep the infections at a low level, it won’t paralyse your medical system, and deaths and serious cases are kept to a minimum, then it’s fine,” the University of Hong Kong professor said.

“So Hong Kong’s already entering that stage. I don’t want to argue about some wordings about this, I don’t want to get into an argument.”

An overnight lockdown of Sai Wan Estate in Kennedy Town found 22 infections among 1,680 people tested.

Meanwhile, Yuen said it’s debatable whether the medical school of the University of Hong Kong was right to issue a warning to its students and staff on Thursday against going to Kennedy Town for lunch.

He noted that the school wanted to remind students and staff to be careful, to avoid getting infected and passing the virus to patients.

In a statement, the medical school defended the warning it issued, saying it was a responsible move.

It said the viral load detected in sewage samples taken from the area was 100 to 1000 times the average figure recently.

A spokesman from the school said the reminder was aimed at preventing students and staff from bringing the virus from the district to the hospital and other medical facilities where they have lessons and work.

He said it is regrettable that the warning was said to have caused panic in the area.

The university’s chair professor in virology, Malik Peiris, also said it was unfortunate that the warning had caused panic and concern among residents in the area.

“The primary concern was protecting patients …. because you don’t want vulnerable patients getting infected, particularly those who can be extremely susceptible and vulnerable to severe diseases,” he said on RTHK’s Covid Update programme.

On the same show, Central and Western district councillor Jordan Pang said the university should have given a more detailed explanation as to why it issued the alert.

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