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COVID-19: Mass testing and lockdown plans in Hong Kong criticised as ‘ridiculous nonsense’ by expert


Hong Kong may test a million people each day, local media has reported, as the city struggles to contain its omicron wave.

But an expert has told Sky News it would be “ridiculous nonsense” to conduct mass testing.

The government will also aim to secure 10,000 hotel rooms for COVID-19 patients. Overwhelmed hospitals have been treating patients in stretchers on the streets due to a lack of capacity.

The city confirmed 4,285 confirmed cases yesterday, another record high.

Carrie Lam says the fifth wave of the virus has ‘outgrown our capacity’

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said yesterday: “As far as Hong Kong is concerned, we need to find our own way out of this epidemic. And so far, our measures to contain the spread of the disease remains a legitimate and valid one.

“The problem we are facing is given the magnitude, the pace of and the severity of this fifth wave. It has outgrown our capacity.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping has told Hong Kong’s leaders their “overriding mission” is to control the outbreak and stabilise the situation.

That intervention has prompted speculation that the city might impose the drastic lockdowns seen on the Chinese mainland, as well as mass testing.

Hong Kong overwhelmed by ‘onslaught’ of fifth wave of infections

But Professor Dong-Yan Jin, a virologist at the University of Hong Kong said that such ideas being voiced from the mainland were “ridiculous suggestions”.

“Universal testing or to lock down a particular part of Hong Kong, the whole of Hong Kong – all this ridiculous nonsense.

“[It’s] actually not valid at this point of the time. It’s just completely a waste of resources.”

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Hong Kong COVID patients being treated outside

Prof Jin said the reason hospitals were overwhelmed was because even asymptomatic COVID patients were seeking treatment and that strict discharge criteria meant they were being kept in facilities for too long.

Others have complained about a lack of available tests and difficulty registering results with authorities.

Sam Lee, a teenager in Hong Kong who tested positive for COVID last week, told Sky News:

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“We went to the post office but by the afternoon they were all gone. Or even just by noon they were all gone because they only had like 30 tests per day and they were all gone by 10am because everyone went to go get them as soon as possible.

“My parents called the government hotline and it took several tries to actually get through to the other side, which was a pre-recorded message that was entirely in Chinese, so we left our name and number.

“We called the hotline on Friday and we got back an answer on Monday and they told us to go to a clinic and get a PCR test.”

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