Hong Kong sees fewer than 100 local coronavirus cases for third day

Hong Kong has seen a resurgence in infections over the past month. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - Hong Kong reported fewer than 100 local coronavirus cases for the third straight day as the city's worst outbreak shows signs of abating under tightened restrictions.

The Asian financial hub added a total of 82 local infections on Wednesday (Aug 5), according to data from the city's health department.

Thirty-three were unlinked to previous cases.

The results come after Hong Kong reported 75 local cases on Tuesday and 80 on Monday.

While the situation in Hong Kong isn't yet under control, the lower numbers are a reprieve after local cases topped 100 in 11 of the previous 12 days.

Hong Kong is battling a fierce resurgence that's straining its healthcare infrastructure and testing capacity, with isolation beds and wards in public hospitals nearing their limits.

The death toll in Hong Kong has also jumped, with fatalities now at 43 as the new wave infects older people compared to previous outbreaks.

Two weeks ago, there were only 10 fatalities.

Hong Kong officials warned that cases can still rebound.

"Two to three days of lower cases cannot really show if there is a downtrend," said Mr Chuang Shuk Kwan, head of communicable diseases at the Centre for Health Protection.

"The number of cases is still very high, the number of unknown origin is also high. At this moment, we can't slacken ourselves."

Officials in the former British colony imposed their strictest measures yet last month in an effort to control the outbreak, including banning gatherings of more than two people and requiring mask wearing at all public venues, both indoors and outdoors.

The measures were extended on Monday for another week, to Aug 11.

The authorities in Hong Kong are also working to ramp up the city's testing and hospital capacity. After opening two community isolation centres that can each host 350 to 500 patients with mild symptoms, the government is studying where and how to open more makeshift hospitals when needed.

China is offering assistance, aiming to help boost Hong Kong's coronavirus testing capacity to as many as 200,000 samples daily - 20 times its current ability. More details of testing are expected to be announced in the coming two weeks, local media reported, citing city lawmaker Cheung Kwok Kwan.

The mainland-sponsored testing push has fanned suspicions that the authorities will collect DNA samples from residents, which the Hong Kong government denied on Monday, saying that the claims are unfounded and that test samples will not be transported to the mainland.

"The Hong Kong government should decide the length of its coronavirus testing programme based on its organisational ability and public cooperation," said Ms Jiao Yahui, a National Health Commission official, at a briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

The central government will "provide fast and full assistance when Hong Kong requests help", she said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.