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Thursday, March 26, 2020, 21:06
HK considering more social distancing measures
By Luo Weiteng
Thursday, March 26, 2020, 21:06 By Luo Weiteng

The Hong Kong government is considering more social distancing efforts, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Thursday, as the novel coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of abating in the city. He did not elaborate on the possible measures to be taken.

READ MORE: Ban on crowds urged as HK virus cases hit 410

Hong Kong, battered by the virus and months of violent protests, needs to restore the international community's confidence in the city, said Paul Chan, Hong Kong's Financial Secretary

A growing number of imported cases and local social gatherings are being blamed for the ongoing spread of the virus in Hong Kong. 

The city confirmed 43 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday. Twenty-nine of them were people who returned from overseas and the rest were largely from infection clusters in the local community. 

This takes the city's total to 453 - tripling the number at the beginning of the month. The alarming resurgence of coronavirus infections has led to calls for tougher measures to contain the disease.

Chan said when he unveiled this year’s budget last month, the coronavirus was a regional challenge faced by the Chinese mainland and Asian countries and regions. But now it is rampaging across the world - and the worsening situation is affecting global financial markets. 

ALSO READ: HK govt funnels HK$19.1b to help SMEs, low-income families

Hong Kong, battered by the virus and months of violent protests, needs to restore the international community's confidence in the city, he added.

Chan noted that current environment has created difficulties for different kinds of companies. For small and medium-sized enterprises, the major challenge is maintaining financial liquidity. If SMEs can ride out the storm, many jobs will be saved. 

Learning lessons from the 1997 financial crisis and the 2003 SARS epidemic, Chan said workers taking unpaid leave and having salary cuts could be used as a last resort by employers to avoid layoffs. 

sophia@chinadailyhk.com

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