HONG KONG (Reuters) – A coronavirus outbreak at a gym popular with expatriates in Hong Kong has resulted in over 240 people being sent into quarantine, the city’s government said, with positive cases spilling into the banking sector and the city’s international school network.
Hong Kong’s health bureau told a briefing that a COVID-19 cluster emerged at Ursus Fitness, a gym in the trendy Sai Ying Pun district near the financial centre, which had led to a spike in cases across the city.
At least nine schools have been temporarily closed as a precautionary measure, schools and teachers said on Thursday.
A confirmed case at Swiss bank Credit Suisse in Hong Kong resulted in a whole floor of staff being sent for tests, with some put into quarantine and many asked to work from home.
The outbreak came as Hong Kong has begun gradually lifting coronavirus restrictions and after authorities permitted gyms and beauty parlours to reopen on Feb. 18 after more than two months of closures.
Schools had in recent weeks also begun to resume face to face teaching after conducting only online classes since November last year.
Health authorities reported 22 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, with around 40 preliminary diagnoses.
Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan of the city’s Health Bureau said at least 30 of the preliminary cases were related to the gym cluster. She said some of the customers exercising there had not worn masks, increasing the risk of transmission.
Hong Kong has recorded around 11,000 total coronavirus cases, far lower than other developed cities. The city of 7.5 million people launched its vaccination program against COVID-19 in February but the roll-out has been gradual with only 130,500 receiving their first shot so far.
(Reporting by Farah Master and Twinnie Siu; Editing by Mark Heinrich)