Hospital Authority chiefs have said staff must continue wearing face masks for the time being, while restrictions on visiting patients that were imposed during the Sars outbreak would also stay in place at least until the end of the month. Speaking yesterday after the first meeting of the authority's board since the outbreak, chief executive William Ho Shiu-wei said: 'Visiting arrangements imposed amid the Sars outbreak will not be relaxed until after August 1. The restrictions will be [lifted] in phases.' Since April 3, acute wards in public hospitals have been closed to visitors. Visits to non-acute wards are restricted to two designated hours a day. Only one visitor per patient is permitted at any one time, and visitors are checked for symptoms of respiratory disease. People have been advised not to visit public hospitals unless absolutely necessary and patients have been told to stay on their wards. Hong Kong was declared Sars-free on June 23 after a three-month battle to control its spread, during which 1,755 people were infected and 298 died. 'Infection-control measures should be maintained. Health-care workers must set an example [of] vigilance by wearing masks,' Dr Ho said.