Hong Kong’s Worst Virus Outbreak Persists With New Cases

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Hong Kong continued to grapple with its worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began, reporting a slew of new cases as authorities step up social-distancing measures.

Of the total number of confirmed cases, 14 were classified as local and 5 as imported, according to the city’s health department on Wednesday. Though the number of local cases more than halved from Tuesday, that doesn’t include the 37 patients who tested positive on a preliminary basis today.

Authorities couldn’t trace how half of the people contracted the disease among the confirmed local cases, raising the risk that the virus will continue to spread undetected.

Hong Kong’s Worst Virus Outbreak Persists With New Cases

“We don’t want anyone to feel like the local infection situation is easing,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, an official with the Department of Health. “The number of new local cases may actually be quite high based on the high preliminary number.”

The announcement came on the heels of Hong Kong implementing its strictest suite of social distancing measures as the government tries to keep the outbreak from spiraling out of control. Up until early this month, Hong Kong was widely seen globally as a model of success in containing the virus, with only 15 cases of local transmission from May through June.

Starting Wednesday, bars, gyms and beaches were shut, public gatherings were limited to four people, and people refusing to wear masks on public transportation will be fined.

Not everyone is following the rules.

A 64-year-old man became the first person to face prosecution for violating the latest restrictions after he refused to put on a surgical mask on the subway, according to the South China Morning Post. The previous day, the newspaper reported that a 39-year-old visitor from South Korea tried to escape three times on Monday from mandatory quarantine, and even jumped out of a moving vehicle.

The Asian financial hub’s struggles illustrate how the virus can roar back even stronger than the initial outbreak. For example, Australia’s second-largest city and several U.S. states have moved to re-impose lockdown restrictions as new waves of infection surge.

Hong Kong’s latest wave of infections began early July, setting daily records for local cases.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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