Hong Kong is to extend its social distancing measures after authorities detected a cluster of nine local infections, sparking fears over another community outbreak.
The move included prolonging a ban on public gatherings of more than eight people and a restriction on customers at catering businesses by two weeks, to June 18.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said on Tuesday that the validity of the two anti-epidemic regulations, restricting businesses and gatherings, will be extended to August 31.
Meanwhile, entry restrictions will remain in place until July 7 for travellers from Macau, Taiwan and mainland China and September 18 for people elsewhere.
Chan denied allegations that the government had extended the gathering ban to prevent citizens from commemorating upcoming protest anniversaries. Next Friday marks a year since the start of the 2019 anti-extradition law demonstrations.
“What has been discussed in the [Executive Council] this morning, in terms of the legislation and also the different extensions, is really based on public health grounds,” she said.
The announcement came after four more people tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, in connection with a group of five infections with no recent travel history.
Dr Chuang Shuk-kwan, head of Centre for Health Protection’s communicable disease branch, said the newly-confirmed cases were all residents of Lek Yuen Estate’s Luk Chuen House in Sha Tin, where the cluster’s first detected patient lived.
Two additional imported cases involving residents travelling from Pakistan were also reported on Tuesday, driving the city’s total to 1,093.
First detected in Wuhan, China, Covid-19 has infected more than 6.2 million people worldwide, leading to more than 375,000 deaths, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Additional reporting: Kelly Ho