HONG KONG – For the first time, the Hong Kong government has exercised its new power to make Covid-19 tests mandatory, starting with visitors to 14 dance buildings as a cluster that started at a dance club in Wan Chai continues to grow.
Under the Disease Prevention and Control (Mandatory Testing for Some Persons) Regulation, any person who had attended 14 designated dance premises during the period November 1 to 21 must undergo a Covid-19 nucleic acid test by Tuesday (November 24).
32 people were confirmed to have Covid-19 as part of the cluster tracked to Starlight Dance Club in Wan Chai, public broadcaster RTHK reported Sunday.
The 14 dance buildings functioned as party rooms, the government said. All party room businesses have been ordered to close for five days between Sunday and Thursday. Live performance and dancing in bars, pubs and clubs has also been banned for the same period.
A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said in a statement on Sunday: “The local epidemic situation is rapidly deteriorating. The number of confirmed outbreaks involving dance activities and dance venues continued to rise significantly during in the past few days, with cases distributed throughout the territory and some confirmed cases are disproportionate.
“It indicates the existence of many quiet transmission chains in the community.”
Any person who fails to comply with a probation notice can be fined a fixed penalty of HK $ 2,000 (S $ 345). If that individual continues to refuse to be tried, he will face prosecution with a fine of HK $ 25,000 and a six-month prison sentence, the government said in the statement.
Those who have been tested are advised to stay at home and avoid going out while awaiting test results, in order to reduce the risk of transmission.
The government will provide a one-off grant of HK $ 5,000 to citizens confirmed to have Covid-19 – to address their concerns about their livelihood if they tested positive and were at risk of losing their income.
The Bureau of Food and Health said it is also working on mandatory testing for other high-risk groups, including those with Covid-19 symptoms, taxi drivers, and residential care home staff for the elderly.
“The government is urging all individuals who have doubts about their own health conditions, or individuals with risks of infection … to undergo prompt tests to identify infected people early,” said a center spokeswoman.
By the end on Saturday, Hong Kong had reported 5,560 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 108 deaths, Xinhua news agency reported.
Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam had promised more testing to break transmission chains.
Weighed down by the worsening epidemic, the bilateral Air Travel Bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore that was due to start on Sunday was postponed for two weeks.