When it comes to fighting a raging global pandemic, no authority can say for sure what measures should be adopted. The Hong Kong government’s latest move to widen the entry ban to all non-residents is a timely response, as are the restrictions on the sale of alcohol in bars and other possible measures to reduce the risks of Covid-19 infection in the community. With another 39 new cases reported Monday, bringing the total number to 356, nothing can be taken for granted. The city must be prepared to go further if we do not want to lose ground in our relatively robust battle against the disease. Belated and piecemeal as it might seem, the new package of measures announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the second such move in less than 48 hours, shows just how fast changing and vulnerable the situation is. The alcohol ban at some 8,600 licensed premises followed more infections linked to drinking at Lan Kwai Fong, the city’s premier nightlife district. While the restriction is likely to deal another blow to the ailing industry, it still falls short of calls for a complete showdown of bars and restaurants to curb infections. The mixed reactions are to be expected. While the economy must be taken care of, it has to be weighed against the wider interest of public health. The pledge to better support affected businesses is a positive step. It is also reasonable for restaurants and food outlets to come up with increased anti-infection measures before the authorities impose more sweeping controls. The suggestion that Hong Kong could easily fall like the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus, is not scaremongering. With nearly 200 new cases in just a week, it does not take a medical expert to explain the risks. Members of the public must not lower their guard, especially when the wave of imported cases triggered by Hongkongers returning from infected countries boosts local infections. IMF warns coronavirus recession could be worse than 2008 financial crisis “It is not just a matter of urgency. It is simply critical,” one official said. The crackdown on violations of quarantine orders can help raise awareness and compliance. But the duty to defend against Covid-19 does not just rest on those under isolation. Socialising as well as other non-essential activities are best avoided. Restraints and self-discipline must prevail in the wider community if we are to win the battle. Choking back tears at her press conference yesterday, Lam made an impassioned plea against self indulgence, warning a wider outbreak may follow and put the medical profession at greater risk. She insisted the government was acting according to changing circumstances. Until the situation stabilises, the need for timely and more stringent measures cannot be ruled out. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.