The Hong Kong government on Saturday locked down an area in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan districts for 48 hours to launch the city’s largest compulsory testing operation.
The area is bounded by Woosung Street to its east, Nanking Street to its south, Battery Street to its west and Kansu Street to its north. It covers Temple Street, a famous tourist site.
More than 10,000 people were required to take the coronavirus tests by Saturday midnight and stay in their premises until everyone identified in the area had been tested and the results mostly ascertained.
“We are aware that those buildings in the restricted area are relatively old and lack maintenance, and many are ‘three-nil buildings’ (with no formal property management). Sub-divided units are common and the infection risk in the community is quite high,” a government spokesperson said.
“In the past two weeks, more than 20,000 people already underwent testing in the testing centers in Yau Ma Tei.
“However, people who had undergone previous testing, including testing under compulsory testing notices, before the declaration came into effect are still required to undergo testing again to break the transmission chain in the community completely.”
The government said it aimed for zero cases in the district with concerted efforts and allowing residents to start getting to work around 6am on Monday. It deployed about 3,000 medical staff and law enforcement officers to the restrict area.
If an employee is unable to go to work due to the announcement, the government hopes that the employer can deal with it at their discretion and not deduct salary and benefits.
The government has also prepared simple food and cleaning supplies for residents. The Home Affairs Department has set up hotlines 2399 6949 and 2835 1473, and 3755 6816 for ethnic minorities.
From January 1 to 20, a specified area in Jordan, bounded by Nathan Road, Jordan Road, Ferry Street and Kansu Street, recorded 162 confirmed cases, involving 56 buildings. In the past few days, sewage samples from buildings in the restricted area tested positive, showing that some patients had not yet been identified.
On Friday, local media reported that the government was considering a lockdown in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan districts over the weekend. Some people in the area could have fled before the lockdown.
The government issued a compulsory testing notice covering all premises in the restricted area. Any person who had been present in the “restricted area” for more than two hours in the past 14 days, even if they were not present in the “restricted area” at the time when the declaration took effect, must undergo compulsory testing before midnight of Saturday.