Thousands of residents of one of Hong Kong’s poorest and densest neighborhoods were ordered overnight from Friday to Saturday to stay at home as part of the first lockdown ordered by the authorities since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
This measure prohibits tens of thousands of people living in buildings located in a delimited geographical area, where an increasing number of cases have been recorded in recent days, from leaving their homes unless they present a negative test.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement plans to test all residents of this area of the Jordan district within 48 hours, “in order to achieve zero cases in this district.”
“Residents will have to stay at home to avoid contamination until they get the results of their tests,” Health Minister Sophia Chan told reporters.
This measure concerns some 150 buildings and hundreds of police officers have been mobilized to enforce the confinement, the South China Morning Post reported.
News of impending lockdown leaked to the local press on Friday. Some media have reported seeing residents leaving the area before the midnight limit.
Hong Kong was on the front lines when the first cases of the new coronavirus were detected in central China over a year ago.
The city, bristling with tall apartment buildings tight against each other, has totaled less than 10,000 cases since the start of the pandemic and some 170 deaths have been formally attributed to Covid-19.
Hong Kong’s estimated 7.5 million people have been living under varying degrees of restrictions for a year, which have proven effective in preventing a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
In the past two months, the territory has been hit by a fourth wave of infections, and authorities have introduced new restrictions.
Epidemic outbreaks have appeared in the Yau Tsim Mong district, a disadvantaged district where housing is among the most cramped on the planet.
On paper Hong Kong is one of the richest cities in the world. But it experiences strong inequalities and suffers from a shortage of housing and very high rents. Many are crammed into very small spaces.