[HKUMed] Real-time situation report by the instantaneous effective reproductive number (Rt) of COVID-19

Professor Gabriel Leung, Chair Professor of Public Health Medicine, HKUMed, and Founding Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control; and Professor Benjamin Cowling, Division Head of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, HKUMed, and Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, at the press conference.
  1. Rt has been kept < 1 since late Janauary. Yet, the city is at the highest risk since this began, with the effective Rt > 1 since last week.
  2. Rt lags by the sum of the incubation period + symptom onset to diagnosis and reporting
    • Can be compensated in part by digital/AI augmentation eg Octopus/mobile phone location services reflecting social mobility/distancing
  3. HKU will be making available an Rt dashboard for real time outbreak monitoring
  4. Regarding the preventive measures taken against COVID-19, 1005 people are interviewed and only 85% of them will avoid going to crowded places while only 84% of them will stay at home as much as possible. The results are reduced by 5% compared with the survey conducted in Feb
  5. Importance to observe social distancing to protect self and others
    Businesses may consider shortening hours and restricting access
    • Government may need to step in otherwise
  6. HK is now at our HIGHEST RISK for a sustained local outbreak since COVID 19 began, therefore:
    • Improve logistics and people flow for arriving passengers at the airport and for those who seek self quarantine in hotels
    Protect older adults, especially those in nursing homes and retirement communities
    Protect and help the foreign domestic helper community, so they can in turn protect their employing families and HK at large

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