HONG KONG: Thousands of Hong Kong residents were locked down Saturday (Jan 23) in an unprecedented move to contain a worsening outbreak in the city, authorities said.
The order bans anyone inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan in Kowloon from leaving their apartment unless they can show a negative test.
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 in a statement there are 70 buildings in the "restricted area".
Sewage testing in the area had picked up more concentrated traces of the virus, prompting concerns that poorly built plumbing systems and a lack of ventilation in subdivided units may present a possible path for the virus to spread.
The Jordan district covers a small but densely populated part of Kowloon.
“Persons subject to compulsory testing are required to stay in their premises until all such persons identified in the area have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained,” the government said in a statement.
Hong Kong was one of the first places to be struck by the coronavirus after it burst out of central China.
It has kept infections under 10,000 with about 170 deaths by imposing effective but economically punishing social distancing measures for much of the last year. Saturday's move is the strongest lockdown yet in the city.
Over the last two months the city has been hit by a fourth wave of infections with authorities struggling to bring the daily numbers down.
More than 4,300 cases have been recorded in the last two months, making up nearly 40 per cent of the city’s total.
The restrictions are expected to end around 6am on Monday to allow residents to start getting to work, the government said.
It appealed to employers to exercise discretion and avoid docking the salary of employees who have been affected by the restrictions and may not be able to go to work.