In Hong Kong, a Big Ask on COVID

City wants all 7.4M residents to voluntarily test for COVID for 3 days in a row next week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 2, 2022 6:00 AM CDT
Hong Kong to All Residents: Please Test for 3 Days Straight
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, left, wears gloves before delivering package of coronavirus prevention materials to people during an anti-epidemic event in Hong Kong on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong authorities on Saturday asked the entire population of more than 7.4 million people to voluntarily test themselves for COVID-19 at home for three days in a row starting next week. The announcement by Chief Executive Carrie Lam came as the southern Chinese city is struggling to contain its worst outbreak, with authorities sending mixed signals about testing and lockdowns. Lam said a "compulsory, universal test" of the whole population is still essential, but she didn't say when that might happen, per the AP. Authorities shelved the idea after a previous announcement caused panic-buying.

The prospect of further school closures and other disruptions has the government caught between calls for loosening restrictions and Beijing's demand for an extreme "zero-COVID" approach mandating lockdowns and mass testing. Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory, on Friday lifted a ban on residents returning aboard flights from nine countries where COVID-19 cases have surged, including Britain and the US. Hong Kong reported another 5,820 cases Friday as the latest surge begins to taper off.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai to the north, authorities are struggling to meet requirements for a lockdown on many of the city's 26 million residents—the largest such undertaking by China since the virus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. Shanghai is implementing a two-stage, eight-day lockdown, but many of those on the eastern, or Pudong, side of the city who should've been free to leave their compounds on Friday have remained in isolation. Authorities have meanwhile placed the other half of the city, Puxi, under isolation, with nonessential businesses and public transport brought to a stop and roads cleared of cars and people.

(Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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