Fears ease for Covid boy amid festival wait

The condition of a 10-year-old boy with croup has improved to serious, as authorities reported 7,218 new infections and 10 deaths yesterday.

Although the daily caseload had dropped below 10,000 for a fourth consecutive day, the Centre for Health Protection's principal medical and health officer, Albert Au Ka-wing, said two more weeks are needed before it can be determined whether the latest surge has peaked.

"The drop in cases could be the result of people being disinclined to test themselves during the Mid-Autumn Festival," he said.

Au said sewage surveillance and the University of Hong Kong's data analysis - on how many people a Covid carrier can spread the disease to - have dropped slightly over the past few days, but they still remain at much higher levels compared with May.

HKU's analysis still suggests a Covid patient can spread the disease to 1.13 others on average. It was below one for most of May, but rose to 1.84 in early June.

Daily sewage surveillance in over 100 samples showed some 500,000 copies of the coronavirus per one liter, which Au said was similar to the level in late March.

Only 10,000 or less coronavirus copies per liter were found in samples in May, when the SAR saw 200 to 300 cases a day.

Respiratory specialist Leung Chi-chiu said earlier in the day outbreaks could have peaked on September 9, as the spread of the highly contagious Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 has slowed down.

The Hospital Authority's chief manager, Sara Ho Yuen-ha, said the 10-year-old boy with epilepsy who suffered from croup brought on by his Covid infection can now breathe without the aid of equipment.

A computer scan will be performed to check his brain.

Ho said five women and five men died, taking the SAR's fifth-wave toll to 9,607.

The youngest was a 52-year-old woman with terminal cancer, while all the rest, aged 69 to 95, had chronic disease.

The first day of school after the long weekend saw 2,886 infections at 992 schools - 2,497 students and 389 teachers.

Week-long suspensions of face-to-face classes have been ordered for 29 classes with two or more cases in 23 schools.

Ten care homes saw infections in 14 residents and seven staff, and 97 other residents have been listed as close contacts.

The pandemic news came as the 100-bed Sai Kung Outdoor Recreation Centre has been turned into a quarantine facility for close contacts of monkeypox patients. Hong Kong saw its first monkeypox case in a 30-year-old man who returned from the Philippines after traveling to north America.