Hong Kong reports 95 new COVID-19 cases as local transmissions remain high

Hong Kong reports 95 new COVID-19 cases as local transmissions remain high

FILE PHOTO: People wear protective face masks at a Light Rail station following the coronavirus dis
FILE PHOTO: People wear protective face masks at a Light Rail station following the COVID-19 outbreak in Hong Kong, China Jul 19, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong reported 95 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday (Aug 6), of which 91 were locally transmitted, as authorities tried to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus in the city over the past month.

About 3,800 people have been infected in Hong Kong since late January, 44 of whom have died. On Wednesday, 85 new cases were reported.

The government on Thursday said it was extending the work from home period for civil servants until Aug 16.

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

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.

Pedestrians walk on a street in Kowloon City in Hong Kong
Pedestrians walk on a street in Kowloon City in Hong Kong on Aug 2, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Lawrence)

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

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

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam said that the city had 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

Last week, she postponed the election for the Legislative Council, citing public health issues.

The poll would have been the city's first official vote since Beijing imposed a national 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.

A man walks past bamboo scaffolding on a building in Kowloon City in Hong Kong
A man walks past bamboo scaffolding on a building in Kowloon City in Hong Kong on Aug 2, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Lawrence)

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: Reuters/ic(mi)

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