A resident undergoes mandatory coronavirus disease testing at a testing centre at Jordan in Hong Kong. Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Thousands of Hong Kongers were ordered to stay in their homes on Saturday as government locked down an area of Kowloon peninsula.
The city's first coronavirus lockdown as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts. About 10,000 residents must stay home until all of them have been tested for the new coronavirus and results largely determined.
Officials said they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district".
The government said there are 70 buildings in the “restricted area” of Jordan and that it aims to finish the process within about 48 hours, so that people can start getting to work on Monday.
"Residents will have to stay at their premises to avoid cross-infection until they get their test results," health minister Sophia Chan told reporters on Saturday.
The government had deployed more than 3,000 staff to enforce the lockdown, which covers about 150 housing blocks.
Hong Kong authorities have taken aggressive measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the Asian financial and airline hub, but Saturday’s move is the first lockdown in the Chinese-ruled city.
Many buildings are old and poorly maintained in the small, densely populated area, where subdivided units are common, said health secretary Sophia Chan.
“The infection risk in the community is quite high,” she told a news conference. “After assessment, we think it’s necessary to make a restriction-testing declaration in the restricted area to achieve the goal of zero cases.”
The restricted area has confirmed 162 confirmed cases of COVID-19 this month, and the ratio of virus detected in sewage samples from buildings there was higher than that of other areas.
The tourist, restaurant and retail sectors of this city have been hit especially hard with bankruptcies soaring and traditionally low unemployment rising.
“Persistently high and spreading infection [in the areas] and sewage surveillance suggest the outbreak is not yet under control, and many silent sources still exist within the area,” a source was quoted as saying.
Beijing's imposition of a national security law in the former British colony in June last year prompted Britain to offer refuge to almost 3 million Hong Kong residents eligible for the BNO passport from Jan.31.
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Gupta, who was designated as X's Head of Global Government Affairs for India and South Asia, declined to comment to Reuters. X did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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