Hong Kong hospitals could face collapse as the city grapples with a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases, leader Carrie Lam has warned.
Lam said the town was “on the brink of a large-scale community epidemic” as she urged residents to stay indoors and follow new regulations, in place to date, which include the use mandatory face masks.
Hong Kong has seen early success in the fight against Covid-19, with the average number of new daily cases recorded last month being less than 10.
But now the city is reporting over 100 new cases every day.
Hong Kong hospitals could face collapse as the city grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases, leader Carrie Lam has warned. Pictured: Residents receive Covid-19 test kits at a health center in Sham Shui Po district on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong earlier today
In a statement on Tuesday, Lam warned that the city was on the verge of a large-scale community epidemic, which could lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost the lives, especially for the elderly.
She urged people to strictly adhere to social distancing measures and stay at home as much as possible.
The stern warning comes as Hong Kong confirmed a record 145 new cases on Monday and 106 more on Tuesday.
The city now has 23 deaths in total.
The last person to die from the coronavirus was a resident of a care home where at least 45 other infections have been recorded.
Carrie Lam (pictured earlier this month) said the city was ‘on the brink of a large-scale community epidemic’ as she urged residents to stay at home and follow the new regulations that come into effect today.
The new regulations, which are implemented from today, are the strictest rules adopted by Hong Kong during the pandemic.
The regulations have seen the closure of restaurants, the mandatory use of face masks in public places, and restrictions that only two people from different households can meet.
Bars, gymnasiums and beauty salons will also be closed.
Earlier this year, at the start of the epidemic, Hong Kong battled the coronavirus crisis by drastically reducing cross-border travel with China as well as the introduction of a “tracking and tracing” system.
The first settlements appeared to be successful as the city went weeks without a locally transmitted case.
But since the city-wide restrictions eased in an effort to get life back to normal, cases have started to rise.
The new regulations saw the closure of catering restaurants, the mandatory use of face masks and restrictions stating that only two people from different households can meet. Pictured: Customers wearing face masks shopping at a take-out restaurant in Hong Kong earlier in the day
Jin Dongyan, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, told the Global Times that cases have probably arisen because of “loopholes in border procedures in Hong Kong”.
He added: “Patients from overseas may have brought the virus into communities, resulting in current local transmission.”
Local scientists have also expressed fears that a strain of the virus circulating in the city could cause more damage because it has not mutated for at least 22 days.
This means that it could have adapted well to the human body and, therefore, is now easier to transmit.
It comes amid reports that Hong Kong’s parliamentary elections, which were due to take place on September 6, may be postponed until next year.
The government has reportedly made the decision, which has yet to be officially announced, due to coronavirus concerns, according to Hong Kong Economic Times, HK01 and TVB media.
But opposition members suggested the delay was being implemented to allay anger over the new national security law imposed by Beijing last month.
The law, which criminalizes acts of “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion”, was considered to be restrict criticism and freedom of expression.
It has also been suggested that the law would increase Beijing’s control over Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China since the end of British rule in 1997.