Hong Kong Eases Kowloon Area Lockdown for Uninfected Residents

Hong Kong began easing a temporary lockdown on thousands of residents after carrying out mandatory testing for the coronavirus, allowing those with negative results to leave the affected area.

More than 7,000 people in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan area had received tests as of 3 p.m. Sunday, with 13 positive cases found, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan said at a news conference. The lockdown affected about 10,000 residents, the government had said earlier.

Those with negative test results would be able to leave and enter from Sunday evening, Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui said. Out of more than 3,600 apartments visited in total, 470 households hadn’t answered, he said. The government aims to lift the restrictions which began early Saturday by 6 a.m. Monday.

The lockdown was a departure for a city that resisted a more aggressive stance earlier in the pandemic, though it still pales in comparison with those adopted in mainland China, where people are sometimes banned from leaving cities, districts or even their apartment complexes.

Hong Kong Imposes First Covid Lockdown in Kowloon Area

Still, it is one of the most severe steps Hong Kong has taken to control the pathogen, and a blow to the government’s approach of trying to keep the economy largely running during the outbreak.

Hong Kong’s government has faced criticism on its pandemic response, with on-again, off-again policies leading to a sense of fatigue among business owners and residents. A rise in cases, while far less compared with global cities such as London and New York, has spurred the government to put in place more restrictions such as the closure of schools and some businesses.

Hong Kong’s infection tally has topped 10,000, with 76 new coronavirus cases announced Sunday. The city has seen more than 160 deaths from Covid-19 — roughly half the toll inflicted on the city from the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, pandemic, which killed about 300 people in the early 2000s.

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