Hong Kong to Impose First-Ever Lockdown in Kowloon Area

Date: 2021-01-22 23:18:41

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Hong Kong is preparing to lock down thousands of residents in a bid to contain a worsening outbreak of the coronavirus, local media outlets reported Friday, citing unidentified people.

The lockdown is expected to begin this weekend, and involve 150 residential buildings in Yau Tsim Mong, the core urban district of Kowloon, the South China Morning Post said. It will affect between 4,000 and 9,000 residents, covering a mandatory testing area where aging buildings and subdivided flats populated by lower-income families are common.

While reports first emerged early on Friday that the lockdown was coming, by 5 p.m. the government was still declining to comment, leading to confusion as media outlets revised their reporting. SCMP earlier said that the lockdown would impact tens of thousands of people and would include parts of Sham Shui Po, but it later scaled back those numbers and said the district would not be affected.

A spokeswoman for Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s office referred queries to the city’s food and health bureau. A representative for the bureau declined to comment, while Chuang Shuk-Kwan, a Hong Kong health official, also declined to comment on lockdown speculation during a daily briefing.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index dropped on the news, closing 1.6% lower Friday.

The reported measures pale in comparison with the lockdowns adopted in mainland China, where a hardline approach bans people from leaving cities, districts or even their apartment complexes. But it still would be one of the most severe steps Hong Kong has taken to control the pathogen, and a blow to the government’s approach of trying to keep the economy largely running during the pandemic.

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