Hong Kong reported its largest number of local coronavirus transmission cases in almost three months, stumping local health officials and reflecting the difficulty of eradicating the pathogen.
The city found nine new local cases, government officials said in a press briefing Tuesday. That’s the most since at least April 8, according to government data. Authorities have yet to determine how five of the patients contracted the disease.
“Over the weekend, Hong Kong’s local epidemic rapidly changed,” said Wong Ka-hing, an official with the Department of Health. “The situation is very severe. The new local cases are quite a lot. We will increase monitoring.”
The emergence of hidden transmission chains of the virus, which can be spread via asymptomatic carriers, is a setback for a city that had largely succeeded in containing the disease for months. It also occurs two weeks after the government’s latest easing of social-distancing restrictions.
Hong Kong isn’t alone in battling flare-ups of the disease. Australia’s second-largest city recently re-entered virus lockdown, while Tokyo continues to find more than a hundred new coronavirus cases daily. In Beijing, the city is showing signs of emerging from a second wave of virus cases after reporting zero new patients on Tuesday for the first time in 26 days.
Hong Kong had only reported about a dozen of new local cases in June. The latest outbreak threatens to further undermine the battered economy, which shrank by a record 8.9% in the first quarter.