KUALA LUMPUR, 20 July — Hong Kong, France, and Australian city Melbourne have made face masks compulsory in public spaces as fresh Covid-19 outbreaks hit several countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a record one-day increase of Covid-19 cases on Saturday around the world at 259,848 confirmed cases, higher than the previous record just 24 hours earlier at 237,743 cases, NBC reported.
The average number of deaths has also been higher in July, as many as 4,800 a day compared to 4,600 a day in June.
South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong, following a record high of 108 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, is planning this week to make face masks mandatory in indoor public places such as shopping centres, after imposing it on public transportations just last week.
Other measures included civil servants to work from home except for emergency and essential services, and dine-in services to be banned from 6pm to 5am until July 28, with tables limited to four people. Also, more quarantine units are to be built for stable Covid-19 patients, as well as elderly residents in case of outbreaks in care homes.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said another wave could hit in winter, and more measures may be introduced if the situation gets worse. Health Minister Sophia Chan Siu-Chee added that mask-wearing outdoors was not made mandatory as recent infections involved people visiting indoor establishments.
In France, masks are also mandatory in indoor public places starting today, and those who do not comply will be fined €135 (US$154), as a measure by its government to prevent a second wave of infections.
Failure to wear masks on public transportations are fined the same amount. Employers for communal offices, however, are allowed to decide the need for masks on a case-by-case basis.
For Australia, it is the first time the country is making mask-wearing compulsory in public, with non-compliance punishable with fines of A$200 (US$140) from Wednesday. The rule is currently applicable to Melbourne and the adjacent shire of Mitchell, though the premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, said it could be needed for other parts of the country as well.
Andrews announced 363 new cases in the state on Sunday, after significant periods of time when very low or no community transmission was reported.