Covid-19 infections have rebounded slightly in Hong Kong after steadily declining for more than a week, but the increase is within the range of what authorities expect on a daily basis. Health officials reported 668 cases on Wednesday after confirming 600 the day before, along with 10 deaths related to the virus. But a senior health official cautioned it was still too early to discern any trend in infection numbers. “There is a fluctuation in the number of cases every day. A fluctuation under 100 is within expectation,” said Dr Albert Au Ka-wing from the Centre for Health Protection, adding that determining a trend based on a single figure would be difficult. “We will closely monitor the situation.” Hong Kong will introduce the first phase of a three-stage easing of social-distancing rules on Thursday, and Au said health authorities would monitor a variety of indicators to gauge the overall risk level, including the daily number of new cases and positive rates from sewage surveillance and lockdown operations. But the government had not adopted any firm threshold of numbers that when exceeded would trigger another round of tightening, he added. Infections were also reported by students. Among 187 schools that had face-to-face classes on Wednesday, two in Kowloon and one on Hong Kong Island reported infections, involving one staff member and three students. Au also clarified that 12 students from an international school who were reported positive on Tuesday were found to be free of the virus, as their parents had submitted incorrect test results to the school. Rapid tests carried out on Wednesday also returned negative results, he said. Another mishap in testing emerged on Wednesday night when diagnostics firm Prenetics revealed it had failed to send SMS notifications of screening results to 482 people who tested during February 21 and March 1, including 25 who tested positive. The firm blamed the blunder on human error during data input at the height of the local fifth wave of infections, when caseloads were overwhelming. A Hospital Authority spokesman expressed “extreme regret and disappointment” about the incident. He said the company had been issued a warning letter and tasked with a full review of its procedures, followed by the implementation of reforms. The government announced on Tuesday that residents who had recovered from Covid-19 could download electronic proof of their health status and enter premises covered by the vaccine pass, but problems have already emerged. Some residents who reported their infections through a late submission mechanism could not obtain the proof in the form of a QR code. The government earlier said they could call the Department of Health’s hotline at 2569 5777 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. But some residents complained the hotline’s voicemail box was full and they were unable to leave a message. Au said the department’s hotline received more than 100 inquiries on Tuesday night and many more on Wednesday morning. He vowed that manpower would be increased to handle the volume as soon as possible. Residents could have encountered difficulties in obtaining the QR code due to a lack of infection records in the system, which could be caused by a variety of factors, he explained. Residents who failed to report their infection on time on the rapid antigen testing declaration platform could email the department for further assistance. The department has received more than 100,000 email enquiries since the testing platform opened on March 7. If the applicant has provided sufficient information with an acceptable reason for the late submission, the department will add their infection record to the system. Hong Kong police arrest 3 who allegedly submitted fake positive results “The computer system has been updating the information of confirmed cases,” Au said. “Once it is updated, the eHealth and vaccine pass system will update as well.” Separately, Dr Sara Ho Yuen-ha, a chief manager of the Hospital Authority, said about 27,200 people had been prescribed antivirals targeting Covid-19. To accurately reflect the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospitals, the authority adopted new criteria for reporting the figure starting on Wednesday, she noted. All Covid-19 patients would be viewed as recovered cases after they tested positive across 28 days, even if they were still staying in hospital due to other reasons or had been readmitted, she said. The city’s tally of Covid-19 infections stood at 1,199,706, with 9,186 related deaths.