CE Lam: ‘Not the right time’ to relax social distancing rules

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Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday that it is "not the right time" to relax existing social distancing measures in Hong Kong. (SCREENSHOT: Information Services Department/isd.gov.hk)

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday that it is “not the right time” to relax existing social distancing measures after health authorities detected local Covid-19 cases involving a coronavirus variant in Hong Kong.

Before the Executive Council meeting, Lam appealed to business owners to understand that loosening anti-epidemic measures now poses a risk since the source of infection of these local variant cases is still unknown.

The current round of social distancing measures is set to expire Thursday.

Lam also said she was “disappointed” and “concerned” that a local Covid-19 case with unknown infection origins appeared after more than a month of having no untraceable cases.

She also criticised the infected 17-year-old girl, her mother, and her elder sister for not being vaccinated since they “pose a risk” to their families and close contacts.

The Chief Executive then urged everyone to get inoculated against Covid-19 as soon as possible to guard against imported Covid-19 cases that may go undetected and may involve coronavirus variants.

The teenage girl was found with the Alpha variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19. The variant has a mutation in the N501Y gene and experts believe the mutation makes the strain more transmissible than others.

Her infection was the first local case of the Alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom. Hong Kong also recorded a spate of Covid-19 cases involving the Beta variant from South Africa from April to May.

The Centre for Health Protection also confirmed three new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday. Among them are two returnees from Colombia who were found with coronavirus variants containing the N501Y mutated gene.

The other imported case is a domestic worker from Indonesia who entered Hong Kong on June 4 via Cathay Pacific flight CX2780.