Hong Kong, Urumqi, ease restrictions as new Covid-19 cases fall

Beijing, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong and Urumqi are set to relax recently imposed Covid-19 restrictions after a drop in new cases, officials in both cities said Tuesday.

In the former British colony, health secretary Sophia Chan said that, from Friday, dining out in restaurants would be allowed — but only until 9pm — while cinemas, beauty parlors and some open air sports facilities would reopen.

Rules on wearing masks will also be relaxed, with people doing exercise outdoors and those using parks no longer required to don the coverings, state broadcaster RTHK said.

A third wave of coronavirus infections in early July threatened to overwhelm the city’s healthcare system. In under two months, Hong Kong has reported nearly two thirds of the total 4,710 confirmed cases in the Special Administrative Region since the pandemic began.

But the strict measures put in place to stem the third wave, which included banning gatherings of more than two people, have succeeded in containing a major outbreak.

Nineteen new cases were reported on Tuesday, up from nine on Monday, which had been the lowest tally since July 3, although the city has recorded under 100 new daily infections for over 20 days, indicating the situation is stable and under control.

In the capital of the northwestern province of Xinjiang, meanwhile, authorities have also relaxed restrictions.

Two districts in Urumqi where the state of the virus is much more positive have even seen restrictions be lifted completely.

State television said that no cases — not even asymptomatic ones — had been reported in the city since 18 August.

Supermarkets, convenience stores and food markets have all been allowed to reopen, although face masks remain compulsory and people have been asked to maintain social distancing and avoid large crowds.

Authorities shut down the city’s public transport system and ordered residents to stay at home on 17 July after an outbreak was detected.

A massive drive to administer tests to Urumqi’s 3.5 million inhabitants began four days later.

The latest official figures show that Xinjiang has registered 183 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 57 asymptomatic ones, since the start of the pandemic in February.

Mainland China, where the world’s first coronavirus outbreak occurred in December 2019 in Wuhan, has gone nine consecutive days without reporting any locally transmitted cases.

Health officials on Monday said that all 14 cases detected were all from people arriving from abroad. EFE-EPA


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