Hong Kong orders strict lockdown for 48 hours, thousands to stay indoors
The government will lift the lockdown declaration only when it is satisfied everyone in the area has been tested.
Hong Kong has placed thousands of its residents in a lockdown to contain a new outbreak of the coronavirus, the first such measure the Chinese-ruled city has taken since the pandemic began.
The order effective on Saturday covers multiple housing blocks in the neighbourhood of Jordan in Kowloon Peninsula.
The order bans about 10,000 people living inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan from leaving their apartment until all members in the area have undergone testing and the results are mostly ascertained.
Officials said they planned to test everyone inside the designated zone within 48 hours "in order to achieve the goal of zero cases in the district".
"Residents will have to stay at their premises to avoid cross-infection until they get their test results," health minister Sophia Chan told reporters on Saturday.
The South China Morning Post said the measures covered about 150 housing blocks and up to 9,000 people with hundreds of police on standby to enforce the lockdown.
Hong Kong was one of the first places to be struck by the coronavirus after it burst out of central China.
It has kept infections to less than 10,000 with some 170 deaths by imposing effective but economically punishing social distancing measures for much of the last year.
Stubborn clusters have emerged in low-income neighbourhoods notorious for some of the world's most cramped housing.
The district of Jordan recorded 162 confirmed cases from the beginning of this year to January 20.
On Friday, the city recorded 61 infections, of which 24 were from Yau Tsim Mong area where the restricted district is located.
Health authorities in the city of 7.5 million first isolated four tenement blocks in the area last Friday, stopping people from entering or leaving those buildings to make sure all residents were quarantined.
The government will lift the lockdown declaration only when it is satisfied everyone in the area has been tested, the paper said.