By Shirley Lau
Hong Kong, Jan 25 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong’s first lockdown targeting street blocks in a locality was lifted early Monday morning, less than two days after authorities made the unprecedented move to curb a novel coronavirus outbreak.
Restrictions were formally lifted at about 3.30pm on Monday (20.30 GMT), when police at the Jordan and Yau Ma Tei districts in Kowloon area removed barricades and reopened road sections, as health workers deployed to guard building entrances checked if commuting residents had been tested.
The move was by far the city-state’s most rigorous measure to combat COVID-19 to date, which saw about 7,000 tested in the area within 48 hours, according to authorities. Residents were banned from leaving the area during this period, but could move within it if they tested negative.
A district-wide mandatory test conducted during the lockdown yielded 13 positive cases – 0.17 percent of those tested.
Authorities dispatched cleaners overnight to disinfect the streets in Jordan and Yau Ma Tei, which are densely populated and in recent days recorded about 150 positive cases. Kowloon is home to many cubby-hole flats at run-down buildings and poor and elderly residents.
At 4pm on Saturday morning (GMT 20.00 Friday), exactly one year after Hong Kong recorded its first COVID-19 case coming from mainland China, the government imposed a lockdown on a block of streets straddling the two districts. On Sunday night, some residents who had tested positive were allowed to leave the area.
The lockdown has come under criticism by some residents who complained of inadequate food arrangements. Some shop owners said they were unhappy because the area’s closure caused them financial losses. The government offers no compensation for shops and residents affected by the lockdown.
Nevertheless, top health official Sophia Chan said the move had been effective and that the government might impose it on other districts.
Hong Kong, one of the first places to be hit by the novel coronavirus, has managed to keep infections relatively low. To date, the city of more than 7 million people has recorded 10,009 infections and 168 deaths. EFE-EPA