Hong Kong Sees Fewest Virus Cases Since Start of Latest Outbreak

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Hong Kong’s worst coronavirus outbreak is showing signs of coming under control as the city reported the lowest number of new local infections since its resurgence began over a month ago.

The Asian financial hub reported 32 new local cases on Tuesday, a marked drop from the high double-digit tallies of the past week. New infections have sustained a decline since the peak of 145 local cases on July 30 and have stayed below a hundred daily since Aug. 3.

The drop is a reprieve for Hong Kong after a sudden flareup strained its health-care infrastructure and testing capacity, and confined its residents largely to their homes -- the smallest apartments in the world. While the city’s total outbreak of around 4,000 is still modest compared to many countries, the resurgence arrived after months of near-zero community transmission and has affected older patients, causing the death toll to spike.

Hong Kong Sees Fewest Virus Cases Since Start of Latest Outbreak

Almost 90% of Covid-19 deaths in Hong Kong happened in the past month as the outbreak entered nursing and elderly care homes -- 48 deaths as of Monday, seven times the toll of the entire first half of the year.

The fall in case numbers reflects that tightened social distancing rules, which now ban public gatherings of more of two people and mandate masks in all public places, are working to slow the virus’s spread. The current measures, which also forbid dining in at restaurants between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m., have been extended to Aug. 18.

China, which has tightened its political grip over the city, has sent help to boost Hong Kong’s testing and hospitalization capacity.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Friday that Hong Kong will offer a free, voluntary virus test to every resident as a way of identifying asymptomatic carriers who are spreading the virus silently. The ability to test the entire city of over 7 million, despite Hong Kong’s public institutions being able to process only 15,000 samples daily, reflects China’s powerful boost.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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