Another 73 coronavirus cases were confirmed in Hong Kong on Monday as public health experts cautioned that more stringent measures—such as a curfew—might be needed for the city to get a handle on the worsening outbreak.
Authorities said 66 of the new cases are local infections. Close to 30 have no known source of transmission.
A new cluster appears to have emerged at the Victoria Harbor Restaurant at Metropark Hotel in Mong Kok, where at least six patients recently dined at on different dates.
“[There is] concern that there could be environmental contamination or workers who are asymptomatic carriers,” said Chuang Shuk-kwan, Head of the Center for Health Protection’s Communicable Disease Branch, during an afternoon press conference.
Three more have been linked to a Kwai Fong family cluster, bringing the total number of related infections to nine.
A doctor at a private clinic has also tested positive for COVID-19. He recently treated a coronavirus patient and also visited an elderly home in Causeway Bay.
Almost 500 cases have been recorded since last Monday, of which 417 are local cases.
Public health experts say authorities may have to consider more dramatic measures if the number of cases continues to rise steeply. Yuen Kwok-yung, a University of Hong Kong microbiologist expert who advises the government on its coronavirus response, warned Monday that the city “might possibly need to lock down.”
Ho Pak-Leung from the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Infection and Infectious Diseases, also said it may be “time” to implement a curfew, and that people should stay home as much as possible.
“If you don’t [stay home and] help Hong Kong now, a week later you will regret it because the public health system will be under immense pressure… it will increase the risk of a hospital outbreak,” Ho said.
“The situation is severe. There are no signs that this is coming under control,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a press conference Sunday, when 108 infections—the highest daily count since the outbreak began in January. She added that around 10,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted daily for the past two weeks.
Authorities also announced the continuation social distancing measures yesterday. The ban on dining in at restaurants after 6pm, and the closure of gyms, karaoke bars and other establishments deemed high-risk, has been extended by another seven days. Mask-wearing has also been made mandatory in all public indoor spaces.