Hong Kong resorts to ‘ambush lockdowns’ to fight virus outbreaks in high-density housing

Hong Kong resorts to ‘ambush lockdowns’ to fight virus outbreaks in high-density housing

The authorities in Hong Kong have begun employing “ambush lockdowns” with no prior warning given to residents, in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus beyond localized clusters.

Following a slew of recent outbreaks, Hong Kong police and public health authorities have begun spontaneously shutting down entire neighborhoods before subjecting every resident to mandatory coronavirus testing.

© REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A packed group of tenement buildings in the Yau Ma Tei district were subjected to one such “ambush lockdown” overnight on Tuesday, with testing carrying on into the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Some 330 tests were conducted on residents from 20 buildings, yielding one positive coronavirus case. A similar two-day lockdown was imposed in another neighborhood over the weekend.

“I thank residents in the restricted area for their cooperation,” city leader Carrie Lam said in a Facebook post.


Hong Kong has recorded just over 10,000 infections, resulting in some 170 deaths since the pandemic began. 

Covid-19 clusters have repeatedly emerged in the high-density, low-income neighborhoods of Hong Kong, highlighting the egregious housing shortage, sky-high rents, and rampant inequality that have combined to exacerbate the situation.

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