World

Hong Kong reimposes social distancing curbs as infections rise

HONG KONG: Hong Kong recorded 52 new cases of coronavirus yesterday, including 41 that were locally transmitted, health authorities said, as worries over an escalating third wave of infections in the global financial hub grow.

The city reimposed social distancing measures yesterday to combat a sudden spike, banning more than four people from gathering in public and requiring passengers to wear face masks on public transport or risk a HK$5,000 (S$900) fine.

Some businesses will also be closed and restaurants restricted over when they can serve diners.

The city has had impressive success in tackling the disease with just over 1,400 infections and eight deaths. In the last two months, local transmissions had all but ended.

UNDETECTED

However, in the last two weeks a cluster of 180 local infections has emerged and officials believe the disease is spreading undetected in the densely populated city of 7.5 million.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced fresh anti-virus measures yesterday.

Restaurants will only be able to serve takeaway food from 6pm to 5am, but they can still serve those eating in for breakfast and lunch.

Twelve types of businesses including gyms, beauty salons, nightclubs and karaoke venues must close.

Hong Kongers have widely adopted face masks to deal with the pandemic but yesterday authorities made wearing face coverings on public transport mandatory for the first time.

Ms Lam said the measures would be reviewed every seven days.

To make matters worse, the authorities said a patient had received blood from a donor who later tested positive.

Officials were scrambling to trace what happened to the blood after it emerged a man who donated on July 5 was later found to be carrying the virus.

"The blood transfusion service has been tracing the blood he donated and for now found that a patient in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital received a platelet transfusion," the Hospital Authority's Dr Lau Ka-hin told reporters.

It was not clear whether the 35-year-old male recipient had contracted the virus. - AFP, REUTERS

coronavirus