Update (3 March 2022): CE Carrie Lam said yesterday there will be no full lockdown where people are not allowed to leave their homes, but that some measures will be taken to reduce movement during citywide Covid-19 testing, The Standard reports. Lam also stated that there isn’t enough space in hospitals and isolation facilities to isolate everyone that may test positive during the CUT. Instead, patients will be triaged before being transported to isolation locations.
Hong Kong may be on the brink of a citywide lockdown, multiple outlets have reported on Tuesday, which would occur during the compulsory universal testing that will require the city’s entire population of 7.4 million to get tested for Covid-19 three times. Reports also stated that testing may begin after March 17, and that going out to buy food, seek medical treatment, and providing essential services would be allowed.
A source also told Sing Tao that the testing period may be shortened to 9 days rather than the originally announced 15 to 21 – the timeline would see the entire population tested in three days. And instead of being determined by birth year, entire households may be tested together. SCMP reported that the lockdown may be citywide or on a “rolling basis.”
Separately, speaking to Commercial Radio on Monday, Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan stated that a citywide lockdown had not been ruled out and was being discussed, saying the goal is to reduce people’s movement to stop virus transmission. CE Carrie Lam had originally called the idea “unrealistic” when questioned about a potential lockdown.
Public responds with panic buying
While no lockdown has been officially announced, as Chan’s lockdown comments spread, pictures of empty supermarket shelves started popping up on social media, people apparently stocking up on food and household supplies in preparation. It is still unclear to what extent a lockdown would restrict movement.
CE Lam urged calm on Monday evening in response to the reports of panic buying, saying the extent of restrictions was still being assessed.
Morgues fill as death toll continues rising
Hong Kong reported 34,466 positive or preliminarily positive cases and 87 deaths on Monday, bringing the death toll since the fifth wave began to 636.
Photos on social media showed the covered bodies of deceased patients being kept in tents, storage areas, and even corriders of hospitals; medical staff told media that morgues at public hospitals are becoming overloaded as the number of Covid’s victims increases.