As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, two of Hong Kong’s top consumer retail chains began restricting some food and medication goods on Friday in an effort to reduce panic purchasing that has plagued the city over the last week.
On Friday, health officials recorded 52,523 new cases of COVID-19 and 136 fatalities as a result of the virus. At the beginning of February, there were roughly 100 infections, compared to a three-month stretch of zero occurrences before December.
This was the third day in a row that the total surpassed 50,000. The spread has impacted the health care system, public transportation, mall operators, supermarkets, and pharmacies by limiting the number of available workers.
ParknShop, a supermarket chain, set five-item limitations per customer on necessities including rice, canned food, and toilet paper, while Watsons, a pharmacy chain, imposed the same restriction on medications for pain, fever, and colds.
In a statement, Watsons Hong Kong announced, “Effective today, ParKnShoP and Watsons Hong Kong will implement purchasing limitations on specified items and medication.”
Hong Kong-listed corporation CK Hutchison owns both ParknShop and Watsons (0001. HK).
Some of ParknShop’s 200 locations will close at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, which is when many Asian financial centers have been depleted of fresh and frozen meat and vegetables.
In an exchange filing on Friday, mall operator HKTV (1137. HK) stated that 20% of its “frontline staff” was quarantined.
A separate announcement from Hong Kong’s judiciary stated that court proceedings will be postponed from March 7 to April 11, citing health dangers, with the exception of bail petitions and cases involving juveniles and those in detention.
Officials in Hong Kong have repeatedly warned residents not to overspend this week, claiming that the city’s supply was sufficient.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has claimed her administration has no plan for a “total lockdown” while it plans obligatory testing of the city’s 7.4 million people, amid public concerns of unclear official messaging.
She promised to make an announcement about the contents of the strategy after it was finalized by the government officials.
Mass exodus from city as cases soar and lockdown concerns grow as authorities stick to “dynamic zero” strategy to eliminate all outbreaks at all costs.
More than 71,000 individuals left Hong Kong in February, the largest departure since the beginning of the epidemic, according to official figures.
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Flights from nine nations, including the United States, Britain, and Australia, have been banned until April 20, stranding those people who had departed temporarily.
It’s disturbingly silent in the city’s Central Financial District, where many businesses have shut their doors, and the typically busy neighborhoods are deserted.
Allan Zeman, a renowned businessman, and government adviser said on Tuesday that the city’s worldwide reputation had been “seriously tarnished” and fear had been caused by the unclear messages. Zeman’s comments highlighted the mounting public dissatisfaction.
Since the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, Hong Kong has recorded roughly 400,000 cases of COVID and 1,500 fatalities, significantly less than many other places. In the last month, the majority of illnesses and fatalities occurred.