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Hong Kong to ease social distancing measures

Hong Kong, Sep 15 (IANS) Hong Kong will further ease social distancing measures from Friday onwards, allowing more entertainment venues to reopen as the number of new local Covid-19 cases dropped to zero for the first time since early July.

Restrictions over restaurants will be relaxed with dining-in services allowed till midnight and entertainment venues from bars and karaoke lounges to amusement parks can resume operation, Xinhua news agency reported.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan announced the relaxation at a press conference as no local infections were reported on Tuesday, except for four imported cases.

The pandemic has shown signs of abating in Hong Kong due to effective anti-coronavirus measures taken by the city government, including a two-week-long mass testing program that ended on Monday.

Under the Universal Community Testing Program, about 1.78 million Hong Kong residents have been tested and 42 Covid-19 patients were identified, which, Chan said, has been satisfactory.

The program not only helped find asymptomatic virus carriers and break transmission chains but will facilitate the analysis of Hong Kong's pandemic situation and be conducive to anti-epidemic work in the next step, Chan said.

During the press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the latest signs showed the pandemic has been taken under control but still called on the public to keep their guard up.

Despite the further easing, the government will continue to keep a ban on group gatherings of more than four people and the mandatory mask-wearing rule in public areas.

Hong Kong has so far reported 4,971 coronavirus cases, while the death toll stood at 101.

–IANS

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