HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam called for calm on Tuesday (Mar 1) after residents emptied supermarkets, stocking up on produce ahead of reports of compulsory mass COVID-19 testing and rumours of a city-wide lockdown.
Local media reported compulsory COVID-19 testing would start after Mar 17, sparking concerns many people will be forced to isolate and families with members testing positive would be separated.
Lam appealed to the public “not to fall prey to rumours to avoid unnecessary fears being stirred”, with the supply of food and goods remaining normal, according to a statement on Tuesday.
“There is no need for members of the public to worry, they should stay vigilant and pay attention to the information disseminated by the government so as to avoid being misled by rumours.”
Officials are planning to test the city’s 7.4 million people three times over nine days, with the government recommending that people stay home during the period, Sing Tao newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.
Exemptions would be made for those who buy food, seek medical treatment and maintain societal operations. Hong Kong’s stock market would continue to operate, the paper said.
Lam had previously said she was not considering a city-wide lockdown.