23rd March 2020 – (Hong Kong) According to CNN, the British government is prepared to do more to force people to keep apart if necessary, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said on Monday. Pubs and restaurants were told to close across the UK on Friday to curb the spread of coronavirus, but large numbers of people continued to visit parks and beaches across the UK over the weekend, despite government advice to stay home.
“We will look at data to see if people have been interacting. If they have then we will need to take further measures. We are getting data all the time. Discussions are taking place all the time. If we do need to take further measures then we won’t hesitate,” the spokesperson said, adding that public transport and high street footfall data was being monitored “daily.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Monday UK citizens who fail to practice government-advised social distancing are “very selfish.” Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today program, Hancock said: “If people go within two meters of others who they don’t live with, then they are helping to spread the virus and the consequence of that costs lives and it means that for everyone this will go on longer.”
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Carrie Lam announced this afternoon that the government will suspend all 8,600 bars, restaurants and clubs with liquor licence due to the surge in cases in LKF. All eateries have been advised to shorten opening hours and to reduce seatings for customers. All private clubs with changing room facilities should be closed to reduce social contact.
While we commend the move, we also think that the government should shut down gyms and cinemas with immediate effect as these places allow people to gather at close distance in an enclosed space. In particular, we have been repetitively calling for the government to shut down gyms as going to exercise in an enclosed space where body fluids are exchanged is extremely dangerous. To-date, there have been 4 cases of confirmed COVID-19 infection at Pure Fitness, 2 Personal Trainers were also quarantined. One member from Fitness First, Sheung Wan was also tested positive in preliminary diagnosis.
Dr. Joseph Tsang, Specialist in Infectious Disease said that any virus will be transmitted through droplets, objects and faeces. According to the latest study published as a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine, the coronavirus driving the current pandemic can live on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days. As we have said earlier, it is highly unlikely that gym equipment will be deeply disinfected by members after each usage. It is impossible to rely on the members to clean the equipment themselves after each usage as they would not do it professionally and thoroughly.
The cinema at AMC Pacific Place was closed on 20th to 21st March after a customer was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 on 18th March. All staff were quarantined for 14 days.
During this critical period where community transmission is already evident, gyms and cinemas should be closed. Many people in Hong Kong are still not practising social distancing as they still hang out in groups. Perhaps the government should also emulate Germany to ban gatherings of more than 2 people to slow coronavirus outbreak.