Hong Kong reports biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases, bans public gatherings of more than 4 people

Hong Kong reports biggest daily rise in COVID-19 cases, bans public gatherings of more than 4 people

A pregnant woman wearing a face mask walks past a street mural in Hong Kong
A pregnant woman wearing a face mask. (Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported 65 new coronavirus infections on Friday (Mar 27), its biggest daily rise so far, taking the total number of cases in the Chinese-ruled city to 518, health officials said.

Of the latest cases, 41 had recently returned from travelling abroad.

Hong Kong has witnessed a surge in people returning home since last week as they flee coronavirus outbreaks in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

READ: Hotels in Hong Kong see spike in occupancy rates as thousands return

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam has also banned public gatherings of more than four people, hours after the Asian financial hub reported a spike in coronavirus infections on Friday.

The measures would be in place for 14 days starting from Mar 29. Other regulations to be implemented included requiring restaurants to operate at half of their capacity and to set out tables a minimum of 1.5m apart.

The ban on public gatherings includes both indoor and outdoor venues. Game centres, gyms, cinemas and other places of amusement and public entertainment are also required to close for two weeks starting from Saturday.

"We have to use stringent measures to prohibit, reduce or even impede public gathering activities," Lam said

The restrictions would hit the entertainment and leisure industries, Lam said, adding that the government has pledged financial support to affected employees. Further details will be announced later.

Hong Kong has witnessed a surge in people returning home since last week as they flee coronavirus outbreaks in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

The former British colony has 518 cases and four deaths so far. It has had some success in reining in the spread of the coronavirus; the majority of recent cases were contracted overseas or by people who had close contact with travellers.

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Source: Reuters/zl

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