On Wednesday, April 1, the Hong Kong government ordered additional venues to temporarily close for 14 days, effective immediately, following an increase in the number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases. According to international media sources, the directive applies to entertainment establishments such as karaoke lounges, mahjong parlors, and night clubs. The decision reportedly came after multiple patients confirmed with COVID-19 were traced back to a karaoke parlor in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Authorities have also stated that masks are to be worn in beauty and massage parlors, as well as club houses. According to reports, individuals found to be violating the new regulations may be subject to six months in jail and a maximum fine of HK 50000 (USD 6450).
Additional bans and measures remain in place as of Thursday, April 2. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a ban on public gatherings of more than four people at both indoor and outdoor venues on Sunday, March 29, for 14 days. Game centers, gyms, cinemas, and other places of amusement and public entertainment have also been temporarily closed as of Saturday, March 28, and schools will remain closed until Monday, April 20, at the earliest.
Furthermore, authorities announced travel restrictions from Wednesday March 25, with non-residents, including transit passengers, not permitted into Hong Kong for 14 days. Travelers arriving from mainland China, Macau, or Taiwan are exempt from the restriction provided they have not traveled anywhere else in the 14 days prior.
To date, more than 800 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Hong Kong, with four associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.