Hong Kong orders masks indoors in public as daily cases hit record

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker in protective suit collects a swab from a man to test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a specimen collection point for taxi drivers inside a car park in Hong Kong, China July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Lam Yik

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong will extend strict social distancing measures from midnight on Wednesday, ordering masks in all indoor public areas including malls and markets, as the global financial hub reported a daily record increase of novel coronavirus cases.

Hong Kong tightened social distancing measures in July after a spike of locally transmitted cases and as authorities warned about a third wave of infections.

“This is the most critical time for Hong Kong. We ask citizens to be patient and stay at home as much as possible,” Health Secretary Sophia Chan said.

Commenting on the spike in cases, she said people had become more relaxed and were going out more without wearing masks. The new order for masks in indoor public places would be for two weeks.

Hong Kong reported 113 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a new daily record, including 105 locally transmitted infections.

Since late January, more than 2,000 people have been infected in Hong Kong, 14 of whom have died.

Chan said the closure of 12 types of venues including gyms and entertainment centres would continue until July 28, as would a ban on dining in restaurants after 6 p.m.

Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Yanni Chow; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Robert Birsel