The Hong Kong government has imposed its first COVID-19 lockdown given the rising number of coronavirus cases, in Jordan, a neighborhood on the Kowloon Peninsula.
The government made a “restriction-testing declaration”, which requires all 10,000 residents from parts of the bustling neighborhood of Jordan to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing arranged by the government, reported CNN citing a statement.
Officials from 4 am sealed off about 200 buildings in Yau Tsim Mong district and deployed around 3,000 government workers to carry out emergency testing in a drastic bid to stem the alarming spread of Covid-19 in the city.
News of the first lockdown under legislation introduced last month was leaked ahead of its roll-out, offering residents the opportunity to escape the clutches of the city’s toughest pandemic restrictions yet.
Residents who were unwittingly outside the area when it was cut off found themselves separated from their families before ministers ordered frontline workers to allow households to reunite.
Others left their homes to be met with police cordons and patrols, as well as their route to work or other activities blocked.
Residents are required to stay at their homes until all the residents are subjected to mandatory testing, which the authorities aim to complete under the time frame of 48 hours, the CNN report said.
The area under lockdown, which measures nearly 500,000 sq ft and overlaps a designated mandatory-testing zone, borders Kansu Street to the north and Nanking Street in the south. The eastern and western boundaries are Woosung Street and Battery Street, respectively.
During a visit to the lockdown scene in Jordan, Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor admitted there was room for improvement while noting it was the first time the government had taken this form of action under legislation approved last December.
She said the government would look into the issue of residents having advanced warning of the lockdown while acknowledging it was difficult to ensure the information would not be leaked because 3,000 workers were involved in the operation.
“We need to study seriously whether we should take action and make an announcement earlier once the media has exposed the plan,” Lam said.
The chief executive also sidestepped questions on whether affected residents would be offered compensation, as some had demanded since they could not go to work. Lam would only say they had been provided with food packs and a hotline to seek help.
“For example, we know the residents being affected are not allowed to leave their homes for up to 48 hours.
So, what the government has done is we provide them with food packs, which we believe should be able to support them for the next two days,” Lam said.
She said the lockdown was necessary after 162 confirmed cases were found in 56 housing blocks in the Jordan area between January 1 and January 20.
Wong Kam-sin, Hong Kong’s Secretary for the Environment, said that the water from the pipes of several buildings in the area was being tested to ascertain whether the coronavirus is spreading through sewage.