Hong Kong ‘on verge of large-scale coronavirus outbreak’, Carrie Lam bans gatherings of more than two people
“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,” Ms Lam said in a statement.
“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.”
The new measures, which come into effect less than a month after the introduction of pro-Beijing, national security laws, will be in place for at least seven days.
In May, protesters defied coronavirus measures in one of more than 10 demonstrations on Ms Lam’s 63rd birthday.
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The health restrictions were announced on Monday after the global financial hub saw a spike in locally transmitted cases over the past three weeks.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong reported 106 new coronavirus cases, including 98 that were locally transmitted.
Since late January, more than 2,880 people have been infected in the city, 23 of whom have died.
Meanwhile, mainland China reported 101 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — the highest daily increase in weeks — as the country continues to battle an outbreak in Xinjiang.
The north-western region accounted for 89 infections, with another eight in the north-eastern province of Liaoning and one in Beijing.
Another three cases were brought in from outside the country by returning Chinese citizens.
Outside of Xinjiang, the virus has been largely contained in China where the first COVID-19 cases were reported last December.
The Chinese death toll remains at 4,634, among 84,060 cases registered since the pandemic first emerged from the central city of Wuhan.