Hong Kong to Extend Outbreak-Control Measures as Cases Surge
(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong will extend social-distancing measures, expand mandatory testing and introduce new restrictions in certain neighborhoods to battle an extended wave of coronavirus cases.
The moves come after the Asian financial hub reported 107 daily Covid-19 infections on Monday, the most in a month, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam told a weekly news briefing Tuesday morning.
“This shows that we still have transmission chains across the territory,” Lam said. “So what we need to do now is join hands and curb transmission as much as possible.”
The city reported 56 new infections on Tuesday, of which 55 are local cases and 23 are untraceable, government officials said at a health department briefing Tuesday afternoon.
Hong Kong will ban entry for people who have spent more than two hours in Brazil or Ireland in the past 21 days, citing risks of the more transmissible virus strains there, Under Secretary for Food and Health Chui Tak-yi said at the briefing.
The city also said it was extending work-from-home arrangements for civil servants until at least Jan. 27, a move that functions as a barometer for some private firms in a city that has not issued binding stay-at-home orders. Current social-distancing measures will also be extended until that date.
Hong Kong has reverted to some of its strictest anti-coronavirus measures in months as the government attempts to tamp down the latest wave of Covid-19 cases. The now long-running restrictions have continued to weigh on Hong Kong’s economy, which has been battered by both the pandemic and landmark protests in 2019.
The city has seen virus clusters in a number of buildings in the dense Yau Ma Tei and Jordan neighborhoods of Kowloon. Lam said new measures and restrictions would be coming for those areas.
Lam said the higher number of reported cases Monday came from a renewed effort to test problematic areas, including by deploying mobile testing units, and did not represent a worsening of the pandemic in Hong Kong.
“Let me reassure the public not to panic,” Lam said. “We need to step up our efforts on testing.”
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