A meteorologist has debunked an online rumour that cold winds buffeting Hong Kong could carry the coronavirus to the city from mainland China, where it originated.
Messages spread online as a cold front coming down from Guangdong province was expected to lower temperatures this week, with the mercury dropping to 10.6 degrees Celsius at the Hong Kong Observatory in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday evening, the lowest so far this year.
At Tai Mo Shan, the mercury hit 2.4 degrees.
Circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp, they said the cold wind would bring the virus from the epicentre in Hubei province some 900km away to the south of the country, including Hong Kong.
It also claimed the air in the provincial capital of Wuhan and its nearby cities were filled with smoke containing the virus because of the cremation of nearly a thousand people killed by Covid-19, the disease caused by the pathogen.
The message asked Hongkongers to close their windows and stay at home with masks on until next Tuesday, when the cold air should have passed.
But Lam Chiu-ying, former director of the Observatory, debunked the claims on his Facebook page, and said the rumours were “totally groundless”.
“Wuhan is 900km away from Hong Kong,” he wrote.
“Even if the virus could be spread by air, it would be thinned largely to the extent that people could ignore it after it had travelled a few kilometres, let alone travelling to Hong Kong.
“Besides, there is a lot of rain when the cold air moves south, so it would be washed away completely. The circulated message has no scientific basis, it’s been made up.
“Don’t believe it, preventing the local spread of the virus is the most important thing.”
According to the Observatory, temperatures in urban areas will linger around 14 degrees on Sunday, and fall to about 12 degrees at night.
It will be a couple of degrees lower in the New Territories.
It is expected to remain cold and dry over the next few days, with the minimum temperature dropping to as low as 10 degrees on Monday and Tuesday, before rising to 12 degrees on Wednesday, and 14 degrees on Thursday.
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This article was first published in the South China Morning Post.