HK's 24-day run of no local coronavirus cases ends

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HONG KONG/SHANGHAI: Two people in Hong Kong tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said yesterday, ending a 24-day run of no new cases that saw the city begin to ease social distancing regulations.

The financial hub was on course for 28 days of no local transmissions - a yardstick often used by epidemiologists to judge if an outbreak has been defeated.

But yesterday, officials said a 66-year-old woman and her five-year-old granddaughter had tested positive for the virus.

Investigators described them as local transmission cases, saying 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.

For the last three weeks, the only new cases have been in 24 people arriving from overseas, who were placed in quarantine.

The new infections could raise fears that a new outbreak may still occur.

Hong Kong shares closed lower yesterday, giving up earlier gains as investors fretted over the economic impact of a possible second wave of coronavirus cases. At the close of trade, the Hang Seng index was down 65.38 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 24,180.30, having earlier risen as much as 0.31 per cent.

Fears of a resurgence also led the north-eastern Chinese city of Jilin to impose fresh restrictions on travel in order to contain a new outbreak, with six new cases reported on Tuesday.

Jilin has emerged as the source of a potential new wave of infections and the neighbouring city of Shulan was forced to adjust the risk level to "high" from "medium" at the weekend.

"The current Covid-19 situation is quite complex and severe, and there is huge risk that the virus will spread further," said Ms Gai Dongping, Jilin's vice-mayor.

Jilin is the second largest city of Jilin province, which borders North Korea and Russia.

China reported seven new cases on Tuesday, when it also confirmed eight new asymptomatic cases, down from 15 the day before.  - AFP, REUTERS