Hong Kong reports 80 new COVID-19 cases, mostly local transmissions

Hong Kong reports 80 new COVID-19 cases, mostly local transmissions

FILE PHOTO: A woman wears a surgical mask while walking at Central following the coronavirus diseas
A woman wears a surgical mask while walking at Central following the COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong, Jul 22, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported 80 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday (Aug 4), including 75 that were locally transmitted, as authorities race to contain a third wave of the outbreak that has seen infections soar over the past month. 

Since late January, Hong Kong has reported more than 3,600 infections and 40 related deaths.

The city saw a surge in locally transmitted COVID-19 cases in July and introduced a raft of tightening measures, including restricting gatherings to two people, mandating face masks in all outdoor public spaces and banning in-house dining after 6pm until at least Aug 11.

A ban on face-to-face teaching at local schools has also been extended beyond Aug 17, with the academic year now due to start with online classes.

READ: COVID-19: Hong Kong backtracks on restaurant dining ban, to allow with restrictions

Chinese health officials started arriving in Hong Kong over the weekend, part of a team that will carry out widespread COVID-19 testing in the territory.

This marks the first time mainland health officials have assisted Hong Kong in its battle to control the epidemic.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had said that the city asked for help from the central government due to the resurgence in cases.

READ: China sends team to Hong Kong to do widespread COVID-19 testing

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam last week postponed the election for the Legislative Council, or Legco, citing public health dangers.

The poll would have been the former British colony's first official vote since Beijing imposed a sweeping security law to tackle what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishment of up to life in prison.

Electoral rules in Hong Kong only allow votes to be postponed for 14 days, but colonial-era laws give the government broad powers in case of threats to public safety.

In a statement on Sunday, the Hong Kong Bar Association said the electoral law was more recent and more specific when it comes to public health hazards at election time and "generally" should take precedence over older legislation.

Invoking emergency legislation to delay the scheduled vote "may turn out to be unlawful", it said.

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Source: Agencies/dv