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Hong Kong to place tens of thousands in lockdown for first time | Coronavirus pandemic News



The new measure will target two districts which cover a small, but densely populated part of the Kowloon Peninsula.

Hong Kong will place tens of thousands of its residents in a lockdown to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus, the first such measure the Chinese-ruled city has taken since the pandemic began, according to the South China Morning Post on Friday.

The Post, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, said the new measure will target the Jordan and Sham Shui Po districts which cover a small, but densely populated part of the Kowloon Peninsula.

The districts are home to many older flats that have been subdivided to make room for more people, providing the kind of conditions in which the virus could spread more easily.

“Persistently high and spreading infection [in the areas] and sewage surveillance suggest the outbreak is not yet under control, and many silent sources still exist within the area,” a source was quoted as saying.

Health authorities in the city of 7.5 million first isolated four tenement blocks in the area last Friday, stopping people from entering or leaving those buildings to make sure all residents were quarantined.

The government will lift the lockdown declaration only when it is satisfied everyone in the area has been tested, the paper said.

Gyms, cinemas shut

Hong Kong has so far reported far fewer infections than other big world cities, recording less than 10,000 cases in the past year. The territory’s death toll stands at 167.

On Thursday, health officials reported 70 cases, 63 of them acquired locally, 16 of which had unknown origins.

Last week, the city extended work from home arrangements for civil servants.

Other COVID restrictions include a ban on in-house dining after 6pm (10:00 GMT) and the closure of facilities such as gyms, sports venues, beauty salons and cinemas.

Health workers wear hazmat suits as residents of a neighbourhood queue up for a mandatory COVID-19 test after a spike in cases within the Jordan district of Kowloon [Anthony Wallace/AFP]

Hong Kong is also set to require flight crew entering the territory for more than two hours to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.

Meanwhile, officials have ordered medical workers to refrain from socialising with others after four nurses from various hospitals tested positive or preliminary positive for the virus, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

“We would like to remind our colleagues not to eat together during work or holiday,” Linda Yu, a senior health official, was quoted by the news site as saying.

“It’s soon Lunar New Year holiday, we hope that our colleagues can tolerate for a bit [longer] and maintain social distancing.”

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Study suggests strong link between obesity and COVID death rate | Coronavirus pandemic News



COVID deaths about 10 times higher in countries where half or more of the population is overweight, new study finds.

The death rate from COVID-19 is about 10 times higher in countries where half or more of the population is overweight, according to a report by the World Obesity Federation.

The report released on Wednesday titled COVID-19 and Obesity: The 2021 Atlas has shown that being overweight is a “highly significant predictor” of developing complications from contracting COVID-19 such as hospitalisation, intensive care and mechanical ventilation, as well as being a “predictor of death” from the disease.

The researchers say that countries in which fewer than 40 percent of people are overweight had fewer coronavirus-linked deaths, whereas countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy, where more than 50 percent of the population is overweight, had a much higher death rate.

“An overweight population is an unhealthy population, and a pandemic waiting to happen,” the report said.

The report flagged that in the UK, 73.7 percent of 10,465 patients who were critically ill with confirmed COVID-19 were overweight or obese.

Meanwhile, Vietnam has the lowest level of overweight people in the population and the world’s second lowest COVID death rate.

It also highlighted that overweight and obesity could be risk factors for dangerous outcomes in people under 60 years old, with those who have a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 34 twice as likely to be admitted to ICU compared with the ones with a BMI under 30.

“Reducing one major risk factor, overweight, would have resulted in far less stress on health services and reduced the need to protect those services from being overwhelmed,” the report found, suggesting that people who are are obese or overweight should be prioritised for testing and vaccination.

A survey last month by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the obesity rate in the United States was 42 percent, higher than the 40 percent found in a 2015-16 study.

COVID-19 has killed more than 500,000 people in the US so far and 2.56 million across the world.

Information collected over the past two decades has also shown that excess bodyweight is linked to worse outcomes in MERS, H1N1 influenza and other influenza-related infections.

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