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Sunday, July 19, 2020, 18:29
Hong Kong tightens coronavirus restrictions as new cases spike
By Li Bingcun in Hong Kong
Sunday, July 19, 2020, 18:29 By Li Bingcun in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, center, briefs the media on the latest government measures in the wake of a third wave of coronavirus infections at the Central Government Offices, Hong Kong, July 19, 2020. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong’s civil servants will resume working from home starting Monday and the government will provide only emergency and essential services in an effort to contain the latest coronavirus outbreak, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced. 

At a press briefing on Sunday, Lam said the arrangement will last till July 26, in view of the “grave” coronavirus situation.  She added that a ban on all outdoor activities may also be taken into consideration. 

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The city recorded 108 new coronavirus cases in just eight hours from 4 pm to midnight of Saturday, with 83 locally-transmitted cases – the highest daily spike, according to a government briefing on Sunday. Among them, 48 were from unknown sources. 

Hong Kong recorded 108 new coronavirus cases in just eight hours from 4 pm to midnight of Saturday, with 83 locally-transmitted cases

The city’s total cases had reached 1,885 by the end of Saturday, including 12 deaths. 

The government however did not disclose the number of confirmed cases number in the past 17 hours. 

Speaking to the media, Lam also announced that the mandatory mask-wearing arrangement will be applied to all indoor public venues and that a ban on evening dine-in services would be extended for another seven days to July 28. 

Currently, restaurants are forbidden to provide dine-in services from 6 pm to 5 am. 

From July 5 to Saturday, the city has recorded 519 new coronavirus cases, including 411 locally transmitted ones. 

Passengers wearing facemasks disembark from a star ferry in Hong Kong, July 18, 2020. (ISAAC LAWRENCE / AFP)

Lam said the government will use Lei Yue Mun Holiday Village and AsiaWorld-Expo as quarantine facilities for asymptomatic and stable coronavirus patients. An additional 2,000 quarantine units will be added to a site in Penny's Bay already being used for the purpose. 

The government may continue to use Chun Yeung Estate, a public housing complex, as a quarantine facility if the situation requires, Lam said.  

Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the Centre for Health Protection, warned at a press conference on Sunday that the local medical system could collapse if the situation fails to improve.

She also urged people who go to wet markets to wash their hands regularly, especially after they touch things or pay with cash, because the virus may be able to stay in the environment.

“Paper money is something that you cannot sanitize with alcohol. So after touching it, try not to touch your eyes or noses or mouth, and wash your hands quickly,” she said.

She also said that the virus was “stronger”, or more infectious, than they’d noticed in March. That’s because she saw some cases in which the virus seems to be able to infect others during short contacts, or just a few minutes, involving someone who didn’t have a mask on.

The Hospital Authority said 19 Covid-19 patients were in critical condition, with 14 people in intensive care wards.

After the government rolled out more social-distancing measures amid a third wave of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong Ocean Park said on Sunday it will extend its temporary closure until further notice. 

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