Every resident in city of millions ordered to get Covid tests
Hong Kong’s entire population of 7.5 million residents will be tested for Covid-19 in March, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday, as the region tackles a spike in cases due to Omicron.
The massive undertaking will take “about seven days,” Lam said, with approximately one million people a day being tested. Throughout the month, the population will be tested three times, she added.
Lam denied that lockdowns were in the works, dismissing such a suggestion as “not realistic.” She added that the central Chinese government is not behind the latest Covid strategy in Hong Kong, but “will offer support as needed or upon our request.” She thanked them for their “staunch support” while promoting her dynamic “zero Covid-19” strategy, aimed at eradicating the virus completely.
Other measures in place in Hong Kong to battle the virus include a ban on evening dining and the shuttering of businesses like gyms, bars, and beauty salons being extended to April 20, as well as bans on flights from countries considered high risk, such as Australia, Canada, and the US. The school year will also end early, with summer holidays being brought forward to March and April so education facilities can be used as testing and isolation sites.
“This is not good news to the sectors affected, but really at this stage of the pandemic we have no choice but to take these measures,” Lam said, adding that she hopes to raise Hong Kong’s vaccination rate to 90%, from its current 86%, next month.
Hong Kong has seen a jump in cases, spurred on by the Omicron variant. Since the start of the year, health officials recorded 54,000 cases and 145 deaths from Covid. Health officials described the healthcare system being overwhelmed by Covid, as people are required to enter the hospital or a quarantine facility if they receive a positive test.
Lam called the next months “crucial” in curbing the spread of Covid, and told residents to remain “confident” the measures will work.
“Stay confident and we will see the rainbow,” she said.