Report: Hong Kong to Lock Down Up to 9,000 People over Coronavirus

HONG KONG, CHINA - JULY 21: Riot police secure an area inside a shopping mall during a ral
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Government authorities in Hong Kong are reportedly planning to lock down thousands of people within the Yau Tsim Mong area of Kowloon district starting January 23 to contain a Chinese coronavirus outbreak in the area.

Hong Kong authorities are expected to seal off roughly 150 residential buildings — home to 4,000 to 9,000 residents — across Yau Tsim Mong starting Saturday morning after a cluster of new Chinese coronavirus cases in the city were traced to the area.

“Hong Kong on Friday confirmed 61 new Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] cases, 55 of which were locally transmitted. Twenty-four local cases came from Yau Tsim Mong,” the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

The city will reportedly deploy more than 1,700 officers from various Hong Kong security services to Yau Tsim Mong to enforce the lockdown, which will prohibit residents from leaving their homes unless they present a negative Chinese coronavirus test result.

Each residential building under the lockdown will be “guarded by government staff to ensure people leaving the building have a negative test result. They will also send enforcement officials to each flat to ensure residents have taken a test,” local news outlet HK01 reported. Authorities ordered all shops in the affected areas of Yau Tsim Mong to close by Friday evening, with government employees planning to provide “food and daily necessities to residents in need,” according to SCMP.

Hong Kong government authorities refused to confirm that Yau Tsim Mong would be sealed off over the weekend when asked about the strict measure by journalists on January 22 amid multiple reports on the lockdown by local media outlets, some of whom cited unnamed city government sources.

Yau Tsim Mong district councilors called a press conference on Friday evening Hong Kong time to demand that the city government clarify if it will impose a partial lockdown on the district “after a day of swirling rumors that some people could be confined to their homes unless they have proof of a recent negative Covid [Chinese coronavirus] test,” Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported on January 22.

“Deprived of credible information, many residents had rushed out during the day to stock up on food and other essential goods over fears that they might be stuck inside their homes for days,” Yau Tsim Mong District Council Vice-Chairman Andy Yu said.

The district’s residential buildings consist largely of “ageing buildings and subdivided flats populated by lower-income families,” according to the SCMP. Yau Tsim Mong district councilors referred to this problem at Friday’s press conference, positing that “many run-down buildings in the area having ill-fitting, or altered pipes … may be helping to propagate the virus.”

Yuen Kwok-yung, a prominent microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, said he had “inspected” one Yau Tsim Mong district residential building affected by the local coronavirus outbreak on Friday. He was part of a specialist team deployed to the area by the Hong Kong government to investigate the outbreak’s cause. Yuen told RTHK afterward he “thinks the virus may well have [been] spread via sewage pipes.”


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