Coronavirus: Hong Kong government mulls over restrictions as local transmissions spike

HONG KONG – The government is considering further tightening social distancing measures as the city continues in the past week to record new local transmissions, especially those where the source of infections is unknown.

Local media, citing sources, reported that the government is now deciding what restrictions to tighten and how far to go, with the announcement expected as soon as Monday (July 13).

Hong Kong added 38 new confirmed cases on Sunday, of which 30 were local transmissions and the rest imported.

This brought the tally to 1,469, including seven deaths.

On Saturday, the city recorded 16 new patients identified as local cases, while it was 32 on Friday and 34 on Thursday. At least 50 new cases were detected on Monday, TVB said.

Infectious disease experts in the city have been urging the government to tighten anti-epidemic measures amid the spike in Covid-19 cases, saying the latest outbreak is more dangerous than what the city experienced in March.

On Monday morning, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council announced that the Hong Kong Book Fair, set to be held from July 15 to 21, would be postponed, as would three other fairs – the Education and Careers Expo, Entrepreneur Day, and Sports and Leisure Expo.

The council said the move came after discussions with the government over the weekend, when it was decided that “it would likely be difficult to perform contact tracing” and also hard to impose subsequent disease control measures for the huge number of people involved.

The Centre for Health Protection officials on Sunday said the pandemic situation has “gone a bit out of control” and they are worried space will quickly run out in quarantine centres if the surge goes on.

Of the 30 local cases, more cab drivers have been found to have the virus, while more cases have been reported in a cluster involving an eatery in the Jordan area.

With many of the new local infections linked to East Kowloon, health officials urged residents in the area to go for testing if they show symptoms.

The authorities announced the tightening of measures last Thursday. This began on Saturday (July 11) and would last for 14 days.

The operating capacity of all eateries is now capped at 60 per cent and at eight customers for each table. In nightclubs, bars and pubs, that number is capped at four.

The maximum number allowed at venues where people can remove their face masks, such as karaoke lounge rooms, party rooms and gyms, has been halved from 16 to eight, while cinemas are barred from serving food and drinks.

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