Hong Kong has taken its “strictest” measures yet to stop the spread of the coronavirus on Wednesday, when Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned of a possible “large-scale” outbreak.
The city ordered face masks, banned dinner services at restaurants and public gatherings of more than two people as cases continue to escalate. Gyms, bars and lounges have also been closed.
“We are on the verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which can lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially the elderly,” Lam said in a video statement Tuesday night.
While the city averaged fewer than 10 new cases each day less than a month ago and was able to avoid a crash due to restrictions on travel from China and tracking contacts, health officials reported a record 145 cases on Monday and 106 on Tuesday. The city now frequently reports more than 100 cases per day, according to BBC News.
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“I ask you to strictly follow the measures of social distancing and to stay home as far as possible,” added Lam. “If we stick together and work together, we can suppress this epidemic again.” She added that the Central Government is working to help Hong Kong improve its testing capabilities.
The increase in cases has coincided with the relaxation of restrictions on social distancing. Jin Dongyan, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, speculated that “border procedures” led to the increase in cases.
“It is probably because there were some flaws in border procedures in Hong Kong, and some foreign patients may have brought the virus to communities, resulting in current local transmission,” Jin told the Global Times earlier this month. .
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Hong Kong has reported a total of 2,884 cases and 23 deaths, according to the BBC and CNBC.