Hong Kong ends lockdown in Kowloon neighbourhood

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s government yesterday ended an unprecedented lockdown after testing thousands of residents living in an area that reported an increasing number of coronavirus cases, authorities said.

The lockdown, which was implemented on Saturday, covered 16 buildings in Kowloon’s Yau Tsim Mong district, known as a working-class neighbourhood with many subdivided apartment units. During the lockdown, residents were not allowed to leave their premises until they tested negative for the coronavirus.

Government workers wearing personal protective equipment stand guard at the closed area in Jordan district, in Hong Kong, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. AP

The district has been at the centre of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, with over 160 cases reported over the first three weeks in January. Higher concentrations of the COVID-19 virus were also found in sewage samples, prompting fears that the virus could be transmitted via poorly installed plumbing systems in subdivided units that lack ventilation.

The government said in a statement yesterday about 7,000 people were tested for the coronavirus during the lockdown, with 13 positive infections found.

“The government hopes this temporary inconvenience will completely cut the local transmission chains in the district and ease residents’ worries and fear, so that they will regain confidence in resuming social and business activities in the area, and return to a normal life,” authorities said in the statement.