All Hong Kong residents will have to undergo compulsory Covid-19 testing, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Tuesday. Three rounds of testing will be conducted, Lam said, and up to 1 million tests will be done per day.
Hundreds of testing stations will be set up across the city, and the testing order will be determined according to birth years. Booking will be required, and “caring arrangements” will be available for people to accompany elderly relatives or children.
Residents will be asked to conduct daily self-testing between each compulsory test, which will be provided.
Compulsory testing will begin in March, and the government will impose more area-specific lockdowns for the time being, said Lam.
Lam said that quarantining those who test positive remained the government’s goal, even though there were an estimated 30,000 Covid patients still waiting to be sent to quarantine facilities.
Government departments will have to arrange quarantine facilities for their own civil servants who test positive, said Lam. Universities must use dorms to accommodate Covid-positive students.
The government aimed to reach a 90 per cent first-dose Covid-19 vaccination rate by the beginning of March, and an 80 per cent rate for two doses in mid-March.
Schools to halt early for summer
Lam said that the current social-distancing measures, including the closure of scheduled premises such as gyms, bars, and swimming pools, and no dine-in services after 6 p.m., would be extended until April 20.
Schools will have an early summer holiday starting from March or April instead of July, Lam said.
The arrangements will be applicable to all kindergartens, primary, secondary schools, as well as international schools, allowing the vacated premises to be used for testing, quarantine, and vaccination purposes.
Flight bans extended
The ban on flights from nine countries – including Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, the UK, and the US – will be extended until April 21.
The city has recorded more than 50,000 infections since the fifth wave began in late December, led by the more infectious Omicron variant.
Hong Kong recorded 6,211 new infections on Tuesday, three of which were imported cases. To date, the city has reported 66,574 cases and at least 350 deaths.
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