The deadly corona virus spreads out of control in Hong Kong. 100 new cases have been confirmed, the head of the financial center said on Sunday as she tightened social distancing measures to combat the sudden rise in infections.
The financial center was one of the first places where the virus from central China appeared.
But the city had impressive success in fighting the disease and ended local transmissions by the end of June.
However, infections have increased again in the past two weeks and doctors fear that the new outbreak will spread undetected to the densely populated area of 7.5 million people.
On Sunday, managing director Carrie Lam said more than 500 infections had been confirmed in the past fortnight alone, almost a third since the outbreak began.
On Sunday, 108 new infections were registered by the health authorities, a daily high for the financial center, which corresponds to a total of 1,886 cases.
"I think the situation is really critical and there is no sign that the situation is under control," Lam told reporters.
Lam announced new social distancing measures last week that many companies, including bars, gyms and nightclubs, are closing and ordering everyone to wear masks in public transport.
The restaurants were instructed to only offer a takeaway service in the evenings.
On Sunday, Lam announced even more regulations, including plans to make wearing masks mandatory in public interiors – and a new arrangement for non-essential civil servants to work at home.
As the infirmaries fill up, officials are also trying to establish another 2,000 isolation rooms on barren land near the city's Disneyland resort to monitor and treat those who have tested positive, she added.
Hong Kong was already in recession when the pandemic broke out last year due to the US-China trade war and months of political turmoil.
The new partial blocking has exacerbated the economic misery.
On Sunday, Lam asked landlords to deal with falling rents in the notoriously expensive city, where inequality is widespread.
She said further social distancing measures would be introduced if the daily infection rate did not subside in the coming days.
However, she said she wanted to avoid people staying at home.
"We cannot be easy and extreme to cut everything at once," said Lam.
Authorities say tests will be stepped up and target risk populations such as taxi drivers and restaurant workers after clusters are found in their ranks.
Some of the new infections have occurred in old people's homes, which is cause for concern given how deadly the coronavirus is for the elderly.
So far, twelve people in Hong Kong have died after being infected with the virus – four in the past fourteen days.
Lam said officials are trying to strike a balance between protecting health and partially surviving the economy.
"It is difficult to say what measures we need to take … many places have told people to stay at home," she said.
"We haven't done this in the past six months because we wanted to maintain a normal life for everyone."
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)