Hong Kong ramps up restrictions amid record cluster of Covid infections

Beijing, Jul 13 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong authorities on Monday announced the closure of bars and nightclubs and reduced the number of people allowed to gather from 50 to four after the number of local infections soared to a new record.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a set of fresh anti-virus measures after 41 local coronavirus cases were recorded on Monday, 20 of which are of unknown origin.

Fears of the emergence of a third Covid-19 wave increased in the Chinese semi-autonomous city last week when a cluster of infections emerged during which 211 cases were confirmed, 143 of which were local transmissions.

The origin of 31 percent of those cases could not be determined.

Many fear the increase in the number of people traveling into Hong Kong from abroad could have aggravated the outbreak.

Lam announced that Hong Kong would not allow the entry of visitors traveling from places considered to be at risk without evidence of a negative coronavirus test.

Hong Kong has an impressive track record dealing with virus outbreaks and by mid-June, when the infections seemed relatively under control, restaurants were allowed to operate normally and the maximum number of people who could meet was 50.

Starting Wednesday, the number of people who can gather in public will be limited to four and restaurants will only be able to offer takeaway services in the evening and at night, between 6 pm and 5 am.

Bars, night clubs, karaoke venues and gyms will be provisionally shuttered for seven days in a bid to contain the outbreak and it will be obligatory to wear a mask on public transport.

Lam urged private sector companies to foster working from home among employees to curb the risk of contagion in offices.

The fresh infection clusters also prompted the local government to ramp up the number of tests carried out on nearly half a million public transport workers, people working in retail and care workers.

The aim is to increase testing with a special drive on diagnosing asymptomatic Covid-19 carriers, for which millions of Hong Kong dollars will be invested.

Local authorities are closely following a patient who received a blood transfusion from a person who shortly afterward was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Some Hong Kong experts recently urged authorities to roll out more restrictive measures, especially given the origin of many cases has not been determined which raises the risk of a large-scale outbreak.

In neighboring Macao, the government is demanding health certificates for anyone looking to cross the bridge between the two former colonies. EFE-EPA


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