HK expert microbiologist says summer travel plans will have to wait

Dr. Ho Pak Leung, an expert microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong, has warned Hong Kong residents that they “should not even consider overseas travel during the summer holidays,” even as late as August.
The expert said that overseas travel would not be appropriate. Ho came to this conclusion after considering the strict border control measures implemented by European and American countries, as well as the severe outbreaks occurring there.
Referencing Hubei province, which only reopened its border after a two-months closure, he did not anticipate satisfactory conditions for overseas travel. However, Ho thinks travelling to less risky areas in the mainland may be possible by July.
Dr. Lo Iek Long, medical director of the Conde São Januário Hospital (CHCSJ), was questioned about this at the Novel Coronavirus Response and Coordination Center’s daily press conference.
The local doctor addressed the fact that many experts have made various projections or speculated on the situation, however, he was not particularly interested in making estimates or predictions.
Nonetheless, he agrees with the fact that the pandemic will not ease soon. “Looking at the global condition now, the pandemic is still very severe,” Lo said. “Many places are still recording a rise in infections.”
Hong Kong microbiologist Ho commented on the situation in Hong Kong, saying that an infection-free period of two incubation cycles, equivalent to 28 days, is the threshold for considering the outbreak under control. This criterion is shared by both mainland China and Macau.
“A large number of researchers have been working on a vaccine for Covid-19,” added Lo at yesterday’s press conference. “If a vaccine that proves effective on the majority can be manufactured in large quantities, this criterion may be realized.”
Having said that, the doctor is unsure about when the pandemic will come to an end because there are “a lot of influential factors.”
“For instance, whether or not the virus will mutate,” he explained. “If it will, will it get stronger or weaker? Will it get more or less contagious?” These are all crucial factors in determining whether the pandemic can be considered under control, according to the doctor.
Another crucial factor is how vigilant people are. “If people relax their guard when the situation improves a little, the situation may worsen again,” Lo warned.
Considering the situation in Macau, the doctor disclosed that contingencies have been made to handle as many hypothetical scenarios as possible. He stressed that epidemic control is not solely a health problem, but the functioning of the society must also be taken into account.
Previously, posts circulated online claiming that the coronavirus would be eliminated when summer arrives, “as it cannot stand the heat”. The Hong Kong microbiologist dismissed these claims.
Singapore recently recorded 233 new infections in one day, and the average air temperature of the country has been around 30 degrees Celsius. Ho said that considering this, it seems unlikely that the coronavirus will be eliminated by the summer heat.
Separately, asked yesterday why Macau’s only serious case of the Covid-19 deteriorated in condition, the doctor said it was merely by chance. The patient does not fit the profile of a patient predisposed to severe diseases.
“The 50-year-old patient is not old. She has no other health problems,” Lo said, before adding that the patient is now improving.

Four quarantine venues still in use

With the Imperial Dragon Hotel and the Grand Harbour Hotel discharged from their duty as designated hotels for quarantine, there are four hotels still in use, according to the government. They are the Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel, the Golden Crown China Hotel, the Jai Alai Hotel and the Pousada Marina Infante. The latter was the first hotel to be used for quarantine purposes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Like the other six hotels which had been discharged from duty earlier, the Imperial Dragon and the Grand Harbour will resume normal operation after sanitization is conducted under the supervision of Health Bureau staff.

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