HONG KONG – The government will soon announce compulsory testing in more areas in Hong Kong as pressure mounts for it to keep the pandemic under control, with the city’s leader saying there could be more targeted lockdowns in future.
Hong Kong now has two specified areas, one in Jordan and another in Sham Shui Po, where mandatory testing has been ordered.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday (Jan 26) said the government has earmarked “a number of other specified areas” and that announcements will be made shortly.
She added that future lockdowns in the city would be on a smaller scale than the one in Jordan over the weekend.
The government last Saturday locked down an area in Jordan, a neighbourhood on the Kowloon peninsula, to get everyone in the area tested for Covid-19.
Part of the Yau Tsim Mong district, Jordan has recorded a higher number of cases than other parts of the city in recent weeks.
“Taking stock of our experience, we should be more focused in future testing operations to narrow the scope of the area to, say, just a couple of streets or blocks. More of these smaller-scale operations can be done at different locations. This is something we will consider,” Mrs Lam said at her weekly briefing ahead of the Executive Council meeting.
She said lessons learnt from the weekend operation in Jordan’s restricted area include reviewing the timing of the announcements of such lockdowns, being more “proactive and aggressive” in identifying carriers in the community, and shortening the time taken for communicating, testing and notification of test results.
More than 7,000 people were tested in the Jordan operation, with 13 cases detected.
Rising case numbers in recent weeks from the locked-down area – a densely built neighbourhood of old developments with cramped living conditions – had officials worried.
From Jan 1 to 20, the specified Jordan area alone recorded 162 confirmed cases involving 56 buildings.
Some of the city’s health experts have said the Jordan operation – a huge logistical undertaking that involved door-to-door round-ups of residents for testing, 3,000 civil servants and 6,500 food packs – was not cost-effective. They said that existing measures, including issuing mandatory testing notices, such as those in the Yau Tsim Mong and Sham Shui Po districts, have been effective.
Hong Kong recorded 73 confirmed cases on Monday, of which 69 are local, bringing the total tally to 10,158 and 170 deaths.