HONG KONG – Hong Kong will test its entire population of 7.5 million people for Covid-19 in March, the city leader said Tuesday as it struggles with its worst outbreak driven by the omicron variant.
The population will be tested three times in March, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said.
She said the test capacity will be increased to 1 million a day or more.
“Since we have a population of about 7 million people, testing will take about seven days,” she said.
Hong Kong has reported around 5,000 new daily infections since February 15, when the number threatens to overwhelm its healthcare system. Since the current rise began earlier this year, the city has registered nearly 54,000 cases and 145 deaths.
The order for the city-wide test comes after Beijing authorities sent health workers and medical resources last week to help curb the outbreak in Chinese territory.
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Lam also said the city’s isolation facilities are “severely inadequate” and that it is “working very hard with the full support of the central authorities” to build more facilities.
Current measures for social distancing, such as a ban on eating in restaurants after 1 p.m. 18, will be extended to at least April 20.
“This is not good news for the sectors concerned, but at this stage of the pandemic, we have no choice but to take these measures,” Lam said.
A ban on inbound flights from the US, UK and seven other countries will also be extended to at least April 20th.