Hong Kong asks 7.4 million people to voluntarily test themselves for coronavirus

Hong Kong authorities have asked the entire population of more than 7.4 million people to voluntarily test themselves for Covid-19 at home for three consecutive days starting next week.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement on Saturday came as the Chinese territory struggles to contain a fifth wave of infections that has led to mixed signals about testing and lockdowns.

Ms Lam said ‘compulsory and universal testing’ of the entire population is still essential, but did not say when that might happen. Authorities scrapped the idea after a previous announcement prompted panic buying.

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Carrie Lam (Vincent Yu/AP)

Carrie Lam (Vincent Yu/AP)

The prospect of further school closures and other disruptions has placed the government between calls to ease restrictions and Beijing’s demand for an extreme ‘zero-Covid’ approach imposing lockdowns and mass testing.

Hong Kong on Friday lifted a ban on residents returning on flights from nine countries where Covid-19 cases have risen, including Britain and the United States.

The territory reported another 5,820 cases were detected on Friday as the latest surge began to wane.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, authorities are struggling to meet demands for a lockdown on many of the city’s 26 million people – China’s biggest such venture since the virus was detected. for the first time in the central city of Wuhan at the end of 2019.

Shanghai is implementing a two-stage eight-day lockdown, but many of those on the east side, or Pudong, of the city who should have been free to leave their compounds on Friday remained in isolation.

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Mass Covid testing in Shanghai (Chen Si/AP)


Mass Covid testing in Shanghai (Chen Si/AP)

Mass Covid testing in Shanghai (Chen Si/AP)

Authorities have placed the other half of the city, Puxi, under lockdown with non-essential businesses and public transport halted and roads cleared of cars and people.

A total of 14 million Puxi residents were tested on Friday, according to state media.

Residents in isolation have complained of difficulties obtaining food, household items and medicine, while beds and staff at isolation centers have reportedly been insufficient for the number of asymptomatic patients and others arriving for observation. .

China detected another 2,086 confirmed cases on Saturday, including 260 in Shanghai, and 7,789 asymptomatic cases, including 6,051 in Shanghai.

The total number of new cases has been nearing record highs for several days.

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