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Asia Minute: Hong Kong Dealing with Spike in COVID-19 Cases

AP Photo/Vincent Yu
A take away order, left, is waiting for delivery at a restaurant in Hong Kong, Wednesday, July 29, 2020.

Updated 7/30/20, 9:35 a.m.

Hawaii is not the only place that has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases after having relatively low numbers. The situation is more dramatic in Hong Kong, where government officials are aggressively addressing an increase in cases.

Less than a month ago, Hong Kong was averaging fewer than ten new cases of COVID-19 every day. In recent days, the number of new cases has spiked to more than a hundred on a regular basis.

This week Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned the city is on the “verge of a large-scale community outbreak, which may lead to a collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially of the elderly.”

Lam pleaded with residents to strictly follow social distancing guidelines and “stay at home as far as possible.”

But the government has backed off some measures — including a ban on eating in restaurants. Following an angry reaction from the public, that policy was cancelled after one day — modified to allow dine-in options during the day, with restaurants at half capacity.

The reversal came after widespread pictures of people eating in the streets — even in a summer downpour.

Still, the underlying issues remain.

Reuters reports isolation beds in Hong Kong’s hospitals reached 80% capacity over the weekend. China has announced plans to help the city build an emergency field hospital with up to two thousand beds.

While public health officials are still piecing together the reasons for the recent spike in cases, the Straits Times quoted officials as saying that residents “have become too lax about wearing masks and social distancing.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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