The latest unnerving daily total of more than 50 Covid-19 cases – one of the largest since the infection emerged in Hong Kong early this year – has finally prompted more decisive action from the government to prevent the third coronavirus wave from becoming a major outbreak. It is overdue. Postponement of the city’s high-profile annual book fair yesterday on the advice of government officials was a good start. More importantly, however, the drastic tightening of social-distancing measures announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last night must be maintained until the surge in infections across the city, including an increasing number of local and untraceable cases, is suppressed. They include a ban on dining in at restaurants from 6pm to 5am, mandatory wearing of face masks on public transport, a reduction in the limit on public gatherings from 50 people to four, a cap of four people at restaurant tables, and the shutdown of various premises, including gyms. With a senior government medical official admitting the pandemic was “getting a bit out of hand”, Hong Kong could no longer afford any indecision or mishandling of the crisis or delay in policymaking. This applied in particular to the government’s social-distancing strategy. If the city were too slow to act on this issue, it could face an explosion in the number of cases within days. We are at a tipping point. The government faced a balancing act between protecting businesses and staving off the virus. Extreme measures, or harsh rules that were applied for too long would risk more damage to business and job losses, and a more difficult recovery. To err on the side of softer measures for the sake of the economy would risk a more severe outbreak of the disease. In the end, rightly, people’s health and lives have tipped the balance in favour of firm action. Good health is irreplaceable. Economic recovery is achievable. It will, ultimately, be a test of Hong Kong people’s renowned resilience in adversity. The fight against the virus should take priority at least for the next two weeks. Hong Kong unveils most sweeping social-distancing rules yet to combat pandemic One lesson of the battle against Covid-19 is that it is not over in a day, a week or even months. The forced postponement of the popular book fair – six months after the outbreak began – is evidence of that. It marked the reversal of some of the recent relaxation of anti-infection measures that had transformed normal work and life. The organiser, the Trade Development Council, has also rescheduled three other events to later this month – the Sports and Leisure Expo, Education and Careers Expo and Entrepreneur Day. New rules for fighting Covid-19 have been set. It is the duty of the whole community to respect them in observance and enforcement.