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Thursday, Apr 25, 2024

No need to worry as Covid indicator triples

Hongkongers need not be concerned about a Covid indicator which showed that each patient passes the infection to three others as overall outbreaks remain mild, with a few hospitalizations and a few deaths from the coronavirus, government pandemic adviser Lau Yu-lung said.
Speaking on radio yesterday, Lau, who is a pediatric scholar from the University of Hong Kong, referred to the university's "real-time effective reproduction number," which shows the number of people a Covid carrier spreads the coronavirus to.

The reading was below 1 from January as it remained at the low level before authorities lifted the mask mandate early last month, it jumped from 0.62 on March 28 to 1.05 the next day.

The index doubled to 1.92 on March 30 and reached 3.02 the following day.

It peaked at 3.59 on April 1 before going downhill again. The latest figure on April 3 was 2.76.

Lau said it is normal for infections to spread as the SAR returns to normality, with all the Covid restrictions lifted, and the resumption of cross-border travelling.

"But the positive cases we record are only the tip of an iceberg, because only those with more serious infections take the tests," he said. "It's not so meaningful to look at the infection tally now."

Most citizens have been vaccinated, infected, or both, Lau added "so when they contract the virus, it's a reinfection."

"I dare say more than half of the people have no or mild symptoms, so mild that they don't even notice they are sick."

In the post-pandemic era, it is good for people to get infected from time to time, which can help boost their immunity by natural means, he said.

Authorities should focus on treating citizens who develop serious illnesses from Covid, in particular those with chronic disease, and admitted to hospitals due to Covid infections.

"If we look at Hospital Authority's numbers, given we have 7 million residents in Hong Kong, just some 40, or several dozens, people with Covid are hospitalized from Covid, with just handful of them being serious cases," Lau explained, adding that at most one Covid patient might die on a daily basis.

Lau assured that even with a rise in infections, mass outbreaks will not occur.

He urged people to adapt to the new normal, and understand that they are well protected as long as they are fully vaccinated and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's neighbor Shenzhen is seeing a rise in influenza, as health authorities upgraded the alert level for the infection to medium risk.

Schools, nurseries and care homes were asked to heighten infection control and minimize risks of institutional outbreaks.
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