Published: 10:19, January 24, 2021 | Updated: 03:45, June 5, 2023
Cheung: HK needs to strengthen testing measures to fight virus
By Wang Zhan

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung (fourth right) chats with members from the Correctional Services Department during an inspection of the compulsory testing in the specified "restricted area" in Jordan on January 24, 2021. Looking on is Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee (second right). (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG - Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, chief secretary for administration of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, said on Sunday that since the COVID-19 pandemic rebounded in Hong Kong, testing measures have to be strengthened to cut off silent transmissions.

The HKSAR government has required specified persons of high risk to undergo compulsory testing on a mandatory basis, as a more focused and precise approach, to effectively deal with outbreaks of specific high-risk groups, Cheung said in his blog.

The government on Saturday issued compulsory testing notice in respect of a local specified "restricted area" in a bid to cut COVID-19 spread in Jordan. People within the specified area were required to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing.

The government on Saturday issued compulsory testing notice in respect of a local specified "restricted area" in a bid to cut COVID-19 spread in Jordan. People within the specified area were required to stay in their premises and undergo compulsory testing

ALSO READ: HK sees 76 new cases, more than 60 test preliminarily positive

The restricted area is bounded by Woosung Street to the east, Nanking Street to the south, Battery Street to the west and Kansu Street to north, according to the government.

From Jan 1 to 20, 162 new infections were reported in the specified area, in which 56 buildings were involved, Cheung said, adding that the government aimed at finishing the exercise within 48 hours to minimize its impact on people's daily life.

Cheung said, apart from mandatory testing and law enforcement, the public's self-discipline and cooperation were also important in combating the pandemic. 

Based on risk assessment, the HKSAR government has continually arranged targeted groups including teachers, staff members from restaurants and bars to undergo testing on an obligatory basis.

The HKSAR government also encouraged the public to undergo testing on a voluntary basis, Cheung said.

ALSO READ: HK sees 81 new COVID-19 infections, tally tops 10,000

Cheung also said the government is confident it would be able to lift the movement restrictions in Jordan as scheduled on Monday morning.

Speaking to the media after visiting the restricted area on Sunday morning, Cheung noted that around 7,000 residents had undergone COVID-19 testing.

“On the basis of what is happening now, we have confidence that we should be able to do it because we have already done screening for 7,000 people yesterday in terms of testing. I think the number coming out today will be relatively small,” Cheung said.

“So, we are pretty certain that given this development, we can lift the restrictions as it were by 6 o'clock tomorrow. Now, the screening and the testing apply to everybody, everyone is welcome to do it. Health comes first,” he added.

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai said that those who tested negative and were wearing the wristband given to them could leave the "restricted area" as of 6 pm Sunday.

“We want to minimize the impact on them,” he said.

ALSO READ: HK probes false-negative virus test results at community centers

Tsui also said that the government provided meal services to affected residents.

“As you know in Hong Kong, we do have meal services for the needy, special needs and the elderly. During this operation, we do provide such service and also, we do have service hotlines including one for the ethnic minorities as well,” he said. 

He added that no one answered when government teams knocked on 470 households and so they left notices on their doors.

"If they open the door, the notices would be torn so we will know..We will continue to track these cases," Tsui said.

Cheung and Tsui visited the restricted area together with Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee and check on the compulsory testing of residents. 

This map shows the "restricted area" in Kowloon, Hong Kong (SOURCE: HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

Meanwhile, Paul Chan Mo-po, financial secretary of the HKSAR government, said in his blog on Sunday that the epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong's economy and people's livelihood. The HKSAR government has not only ensured adequate financial resources to fight COVID-19, but also strengthened the application of science and technology to assist in dealing with it.

READ MORE: New infection control center to help HK fight COVID-19

The HKSAR government has also funded a number of research and development projects on epidemic prevention products and technology applications, Chan said, adding that they will continue to promote the development of innovation and technology and bring sustained impetus to the diversified economic development of Hong Kong after the pandemic. 

With Xinhua inputs