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Hong Kong is getting ready to an outbreak that might result in the collapse of the hospital system, says the managing director

A man eats a takeaway meal in a chair outside a restaurant in Kowloon's Sham Shui Po neighborhood in Hong Kong in the early morning of July 29, 2020 as new social distancing measures come into effect, which only restaurants are allowed to serve to fight a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Anthony Wallace | AFP | Getty Images

Hong Kong is on the verge of a major outbreak of corona viruses that could overload its health care facilities and cost lives, said managing director Carrie Lam on Wednesday when new social distance measures came into force.

In a recorded video address late Tuesday, Lam said there had been an "upswing" in local infections and there were "many with unknown sources." Confirmed cases in Hong Kong rose in July, and a new daily high of 145 was reported this week.

Also on Tuesday, the authorities said they were investigating 106 new cases, which is a total of at least 2,884.

"We are on the brink of a major outbreak in the community, which can lead to the collapse of our hospital system and cost lives, especially among the elderly," said the managing director.

Hong Kong was initially able to contain the virus, although it was relatively close to the city of Wuhan in China, where infections were first detected in 2019. It was able to avoid a ban, while many other countries introduced restrictive social distancing measures and even reopened Disneyland Hong Kong in mid-June.

In today's city, however, new and stricter rules for social distancing come into force, with a ban on gatherings of more than two people and the suspension of dine-in services.

Lam urged citizens to work together to protect the city. "I appeal to you to strictly follow the social distancing measures and to stay at home as much as possible. If we are united and work together, we can suppress this epidemic again."

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