Hong Kong courts are facing "unprecedented" challenges in processing the sheer number of protest-related arrests, the city's leader Carrie Lam said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Hong Kong's Chief Justice on Monday announced the creation of a task force to deal with protest cases, which would introduce new measures such as possibly extending the courts' sitting hours.

Lam also played down the impact of an infectious strain of pneumonia originating from mainland China on Hong Kong, adding that Hong Kong would work closely with mainland authorities to monitor suspected cases.

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of large-scale protests and civil unrest. Demonstrators are angry at what they see to be Chinese meddling in Hong Kong's promised freedoms when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997. They also say they are responding to excessive use of force by police.

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