HONG KONG (CNA) – Hong Kong reported 351 cases of coronavirus yesterday, a record daily high since the outbreak of the pandemic, further pressuring the government’s “dynamic zero-COVID” strategy as other major cities opt to live with the virus.
Health Secretary Sophia Chan said at a news conference she expects cases to rise “exponentially” following the Lunar New Year holiday due to an increase in family and social gatherings and appealed several times for people to stay indoors.
“Stay at home, please,” Chan said as she again urged people, especially the elderly, to get vaccinated.
About 160 of the latest cases had no clear source and were still being investigated, authorities said.
The global financial hub has become one of the most isolated cities in the world, with flights down around 90 per cent due to strict coronavirus regulations and schools, playgrounds, gyms as well as most other venues shut. Restaurants close at 6pm.
The government this week extended a work-from-home plan for civil servants and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the city plans to roll out antigen rapid tests for COVID-19 to all its 7.5 million people in the near future. On Friday, Hong Kong reported 131 positive cases, compared with 142 on Thursday.
The previous daily record was 164 cases in late January.
In total, Hong Kong has recorded 213 COVID-19 deaths and around 15,000 cases since early 2020, according to the government.
The government said on Friday two pet cats had tested positive for coronavirus and urged pet owners to avoid kissing animals.
In January, authorities enraged many residents with an order to cull more than 2,000 hamsters in dozens of pet shops, after tracing an outbreak to a worker in a shop where 11 hamsters tested positive.
The city has followed mainland China in pursuing a “dynamic zero-COVID” policy aimed at suppressing coronavirus infections as soon as possible after they occur, bucking a global trend of living with the virus.