HONG KONG - More entertainment establishments have been ordered by the government to close temporarily as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases continue to soar to 765 on Wednesday (April 1).
The Secretary of Food and Health Bureau Sophia Chan ordered karaoke lounges, mahjong parlours and nightclubs to be closed from 6pm on Wednesday for two weeks.
Masks are also to be worn in beauty and massage parlours, as well as club houses.
The directives come after new regulations were published in the government’s electronic gazette, covering massage, beauty and mahjong parlours, karaoke lounges, nightclubs and club houses.
The gazette had originally said these venues were to close from 3 pm on Wednesday for two weeks.
But the Bureau later clarified the mandatory closures apply only to some of the establishments mentioned in the gazette.
The move comes amid calls for the government to close the loophole as many of the venues were not included in an order issued last week.
The government had then announced the closure of six other types of leisure venues, including ice rinks, gaming arcades, cinemas and gyms. It also ordered eateries to halve their capacity and to have tables spaced at least 1.5m apart from each other.
The authorities have also restricted the size of gatherings to no more than four people indoors and outdoors, with exceptions such as family sizes, offices, funerals and weddings.
On Wednesday, however, Hong Kong reported another 51 new coronavirus cases, including a 40-day-old baby.
This brings the total tally to 765 confirmed cases, including four who have died.
Health authorities said three in five of the new patients had recent travel history, of whom 13 were returning students.
On Tuesday, health officials said five confirmed patients had links to the Tsim Sha Tsui branch of a karaoke bar, which was initially left out of the earlier social-distancing measures the government had rolled out.
Pressure is mounting on the city's public healthcare system as Covid-19 cases surge, prompting the Hospital Authority to start diverting some suspected cases to a temporary testing centre at Asia World Expo in Lantau.
Ms Arisina Ma, chief of Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association, cautioned on Tuesday that the 400 additional isolation beds the Hospital Authority freed up recently might not be enough to cope with the spike in coronavirus cases.
"So if the pandemic gets worse, we're going to need to admit, let's say, two to 300 new cases per day, even if we open these 400 beds, we cannot cope with the rapid rise in newly confirmed cases," she said.