Hong Kong authorities Tuesday announced a ban on arrivals from Ireland and Brazil to guard against new virus strains spreading in both countries and extended its social distancing measures for another week.

The ban effective next Saturday follows similar measures announced earlier and covering passengers from Britain and South Africa. People who have spent more than two hours in Ireland or Brazil less than 21 days before landing in the city will be denied entry.

Several areas in the Yau Tsim Mong and Shum Shui Po districts have recorded cluster outbreaks related to residential buildings. Photo: Stand News.

Social distancing measures due to lapse on Wednesday were extended until January 27. These involve the total closure of bars and some other businesses, a ban on dine-in services at restaurants after 6pm and social gatherings restricted to no more than two individuals.

The city recorded a total of 107 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, and 56 cases as of Tuesday afternoon.

Photo: Stand News screenshot.

Due to a developing cluster outbreak in Yau Tsim Mong district, which has some of Hong Kong’s most densely packed housing, the government has ordered Hongkongers living in designated areas to undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing.

Residents and visitors to the designated areas in Mong Kok, Jordan, and Shum Shui Po have been ordered to take a test within three days if their building has recorded one or more cases at any time in the past 14 days.

Those who live in or visited four blocks considered to be the core of the outbreak, between Reclamation Street and Temple Street, have been ordered to take tests whether or not their buildings have any cases.

Chuang Shuk-kwan of The Centre for Health Protection said that 21 of the patients who tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday were identified from temporary or mobile test stations in Yau Ma Tei. Another 60 individuals tested preliminarily positive today, about half of them were identified by these testing stations.

Hong Kong citizens at a Chinese New Year fair held in February 2020. Photo: GovHK.

At a separate briefing on Tuesday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan announced that the annual Chinese New Year’s eve fairs will be allowed to continue, although only half of the number of stalls will be allowed and the markets must close by 9pm.

The government will control the number of visitors allowed to enter the market venue at any given point in time and they will have to have their temperatures taken. Stall workers will have to undergo Covid-19 tests before the event, and give the government a list of names and contact information for their staff. Rent for the market stalls will be waived by the government.

Hong Kong has confirmed 9,721 cases of the coronavirus and 164 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.