Coronavirus cases in Hong Kong’s Yau Tsim Mong district – a working-class neighborhood with old buildings and subdivided apartments – represent about half of infections in the past week.
Wastewater testing in the area picked up more concentrated traces of the virus, raising concerns that poorly constructed plumbing systems and lack of ventilation in subdivided units could pose a possible route for virus spread.
Authorities said in a statement Saturday that an area of 16 buildings in Yau Tsim Mong will be locked down until all residents have been tested. Residents are not allowed to leave their homes until they have received their test results to prevent cross-infection.
“Persons who are subject to mandatory testing must remain in their premises until all such identified persons in the area have undergone testing and the test results are mostly ascertained,” the government said in a statement.
Hong Kong has previously avoided lockdown in the city during the pandemic, where leader Carrie Lam said in July last year that authorities were avoiding taking such “extreme measures” unless it had no other choice.
The restrictions, which were announced at. 4 in Hong Kong, is expected to end within 48 hours, the government said.
It appealed to employers to exercise discretion and avoid paying salaries to employees who have been affected by the restrictions and may not be able to go to work.
Hong Kong has seen a total of 9,929 infections in the city with 168 deaths recorded as of Friday.