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Hong Kong official warns of potential virus outbreak, urges people to stay indoors

Hong Kong official warns of potential virus outbreak, urges people to stay indoors
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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned of the potential of a large COVID-19 outbreak in the city and encouraged residents to stay indoors as new restrictions take effect in the city.

“We are 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 said in a statement late Tuesday, according to Reuters

“In order to protect our loved ones, our healthcare staff and Hong Kong, I appeal to you to follow strictly the social distancing measures and stay at home as far as possible,” she added. 

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Lam’s comments come as the city moves to implement new coronavirus restrictions starting Wednesday, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people and a ban on indoor dining in restaurants. Hong Kong also implemented a mandate for face masks to be worn in public, including outdoors.

The restrictions followed an increase in COVID-19 cases in the past three weeks, with 106 new cases confirmed Tuesday. Since January, Hong Kong has recorded 2,880 coronavirus infections and 23 deaths, according to Reuters.

The prohibition of indoor dining comes as some restaurants in the semi-autonomous city vacate their locations to move to more affordable areas and save on rent following the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, the South China Morning Post reported

Hong Kong had forbidden dining after 6 p.m., but the further limitations are expected to provoke more businesses to follow suit in moving. About 16,000 restaurants in the city are struggling financially after the city instituted its first restrictions in March, according to the South China Morning Post.