Public health experts are urging Hong Kong authorities to re-introduce the strict virus restrictions in place during the peak of the outbreak in March.
Close to 150 COVID-19 cases were reported last week, including 47 the past weekend. The figures are a dramatic spike—from mid-April to early this month, the city largely recorded only sporadic local infections and appeared to have conquered the spread of the virus.
In a morning segment of RTHK on Monday, David Hui, an infectious disease expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said tougher regulations should be implemented “as soon as possible.”
He said big events should be halted, including the annual book fair scheduled to start this Wednesday. (Authorities announced later in the day that the fair would be postponed.)
“The distribution [of the confirmed cases] is becoming wide.” Hui said. “The increase in untraceable cases and the number of businesses involved show that the virus is in the community right now.”
He added that the current situation as “out of control,” but that it is still possible to break the chain of transmission if the government urgently re-adopts the strict restrictions imposed in March.
Four months ago, a flood of travelers returning from virus hotspots including the US and the UK threatened to escalate the local outbreak. At the end of March, the government enforced strict measures including a ban on gatherings larger than four people, and the closure of cinemas, gyms and other entertainment venues. Bars, clubs and beauty salons were ordered to shutter soon after.
Ho Pak-leung, a microbiologist from the University of Hong Kong, said in the same RTHK program that authorities should make mask-wearing compulsory in high-risk areas such as public transportations and hospitals.
He also suggested that the maximum number of people per table at restaurants should be halved from eight to four.
The double-digit daily increases last week brought the total number of COVID-19 infections in the city to 1,470 as of Sunday.
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