There are no plans to tighten social distancing regulations in Hong Kong, despite a Covid surge and soaring fatalities, said Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

The leader of Hong Kong said there was only limited room to further tighten the measures, with the region implementing the most stringent restrictions since the start of the pandemic. The majority of venues are closed, gatherings of more than two people are prohibited and face coverings are mandatory everywhere, reports Reuters news agency.

Lam said during a daily briefing: “The government has to be very careful before tightening social distancing measures further ... with the need to consider the mental health of citizens.”

Last week, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive said the government had no schedule for potential obligatory mass testing of the 7.4 million population. A total of 26,908 new cases were reported on Monday by health authorities, and 249 fatalities.

Over 700,000 Covid infections have been reported in Hong Kong and around 4,200 deaths, the majority over the last three weeks. The region has followed the mainland’s "dynamic zero" policy, which aims to stop all outbreaks when they happen, rather than trying to live with the virus, the Reuters report adds.

For the last two years, Hong Kong’s borders have been effectively closed, with very few flights permitted to land, and the majority of travellers in transit banned.

However, fatalities have surged, especially amongst elderly citizens who haven’t been vaccinated. Last week, to 10th March, Hong Kong recorded the highest number of deaths per million globally, as per Our World in Data stats.

Carrie Lam’s comments followed China reporting soaring new cases on Sunday, over three times as many as the day before and close to a two-year high.

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