- Fears that isolation wards will run out of capacity in public hospitals if new infections continue daily rise in their dozens
- Most new cases have recent travel history, mainly returning from United States and Europe
Hong Kong was in danger of running out of isolation beds "very soon", the authority in charge of the city's public hospitals warned, as another 59 coronavirus cases were confirmed on Sunday, taking the steadily rising tally to 641.
The health authorities revealed on Sunday that 40 of those new patients " aged 11 to 77 " had recent travel history, most returning from the United States and Europe.
Groups of more than four risk arrest as Hong Kong Covid-19 measures kick in
The authorities said they had not been able to determine the chain of transmission for six of the patients so far. Four patients were in a critical condition, as of Sunday.
Dr Sara Ho, the Hospital Authority's chief manager of patient safety and risk management, said even though the public hospitals were doing their best to convert general wards into isolation units, the hospitals could run out of the specialist beds "very soon" if the cases continued to surge in their dozens each day.
"We're indeed very worried that the situation will worsen. No matter how hard we're trying to have more isolation beds, we probably cannot meet the growing demand," she said.
Ho added she did not want to see the city's health system paralysed, as suffered in other parts of the world.
The new cases were recorded on the same weekend the government rolled out new social-distancing measures to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
No matter how hard we're trying to have more isolation beds, we probably cannot meet the growing demandDr Sara Ho
From Sunday, gatherings of more than four people in public spaces are banned for 14 days, although there will be no limit on how many people can congregate in private or work settings.
New social-distancing rules may be lifted only if they become 'habit'
Neither will the rule apply to public transport, weddings, funerals, courts or government buildings and official meetings.
Those who flout the new law could be fined up to HK$25,000 (US$3,220) and jailed for six months.
Since Saturday evening, restaurants must restrict the number of diners at each table to four, with groups set 1.5 metres apart, and the businesses can only run to a maximum of 50 per cent capacity.
Those in breach face a maximum penalty of a HK$50,000 fine and six months in prison.
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