Health officials have warned a ‘third wave’ of coronavirus cases has hit Hong Kong.
The city has seen a surge in Covid-19 infections after recording 24 cases yesterday, and 100 new cases within the last week.
But Hong Kong had only detected 21 cases in total for the whole of June, MailOnline reports.
Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of the communicable diseases branch of the Centre for Health Protection, said in a press briefing on Tuesday: ‘We are worried that there will be a massive community outbreak, with so many sources of infection.’
The authorities have since unveiled a series of measures to tackle the rise in cases, including controlling the flow of people returning from higher-risk countries and requiring domestic helpers to quarantine in hotels on arrival.
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The Government said 19 of the new infections are native and five were imported from abroad.
Health minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee described the situation as ‘very alarming’.
Hong Kong has been widely praised for its efforts against the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday, the city has reported a total of 1,324 confirmed Covid-19 cases and seven deaths.
The Hong Kong government said it will organise the return of its residents from countries deemed as high-risk, such as Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and South Africa.
Foreign domestic workers will be required to undergo pre-boarding coronavirus screening before flying to Hong Kong. Their employers must arrange 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival at designated hotels in the city.
The authorities said that they were also looking into tightening social distancing measures at restaurants and entertainment venues.
Ms Chuang said in the media conference the latest outbreak was caused by an increase in social activities in the city over the past few weeks, according to Asia Times.
She said people may have paid less attention to social distancing rules than they should have, because there were fewer local infections recorded last month.
Wong Ka-hing, the controller of the Centre for Health Protection, said in the media briefing: ‘The re-emerge of local cases showed that the transmission chain through asymptomatic patients in Hong Kong has never been cut off.’
The news comes as Hong Kong has been embroiled in political unrest after China’s central government imposed a tough new law on the city that critics view as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony.
Beijing has now inaugurated its national security office in Hong Kong, where China’s intelligence agents will monitor the semi-autonomous territory’s internal affairs for ‘terrorist activities or foreign intervention’.
Hong Kong’s education bureau also announced on Wednesday that schools must not allow students to play, sing or broadcast the protest anthem ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ because it contains political messages.
Last week, the city criminalised the pro-democracy slogan ‘Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time’ under the new national security law, which was enforced on June 30.
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