Hong Kong reports first locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in weeks

HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported its first two COVID-19 cases in three weeks that are not linked to anyone who had travelled overseas, with authorities scrambling to trace the origin of the infections.

The Asian financial hub has been one of the most successful cities in the world at containing the pandemic, with most cases imported and quarantined immediately, and the discovery of new cases raises worries of renewed local transmission.

The latest government health report, including two local cases – a 66-year-old housewife and her five-year-old granddaughter – and one imported, brings the total in the city to 1,051, four of whom have died. Only a few dozens have yet to fully recover.

Investigators said they were still trying to work out how the older woman had become infected.

“She has no travel history. Her family has no travel history and they have no contact history with confirmed cases,” Dr Chaung Shuk-kwan told reporters, adding officials were planning to test neighbours.

Over the last three weeks, the only COVID-19 cases were 24 people arriving from overseas, who were then placed in quarantine. 

Hong Kong re-opened bars, gyms and cinemas last week and announced tentative plans to bring some students back to school at the end of the month, but a ban on groups larger than eight remains in place.

The lack of local transmissions in recent weeks has emboldened pro-democracy protesters to resume demonstrations after a coronavirus-induced lull, though their scale remains significantly lower than last year when millions took to the streets for months in sometimes violent anti-China unrest.

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