Mass testing for Covid-19 in Hong Kong to begin on Sept 1

HONG KONG (REUTERS, XINHUA) – Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Friday (Aug 21) that mass testing of residents for coronavirus in the Asian financial hub will begin on Sept 1, as she warned people not to be complacent despite a steady fall in the number of new infections.

The testing, which will be done with the assistance of a 60-person team from the mainland, is the first time that Chinese health officials have assisted the special administrative region in its battle to control the pandemic.

The testing will be voluntary and take around two weeks to complete, Mrs Lam said.

“There will be a substantial boosting of the testing capacity in the public and private sector, a more than 10-fold increase,” she said.

Hong Kong had seen a resurgence of locally transmitted cases since the start of July but the daily number has fallen from triple digits in recent weeks to low double digits.

Hong Kong still has a relatively low number of overall cases globally. Since late January, more than 4,600 people have been infected, 75 of whom have died.

Restrictions including a ban on dining at restaurants after 6pm and the mandatory wearing of masks in all outdoor public areas are set to remain in force until at least Aug 25.

Businesses across the city have been reeling from the restrictions with many industries calling on the government for urgent financial support.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) will start its 2020-2021 session on Oct 14, according to the Gazette of the government on Friday.

Mrs Lam announced the date in a statement following a decision of China’s top legislature earlier this month for the sixth LegCo to continue performing duties for no less than a year in a bid to address the vacancy caused by the postponement of the LegCo election.

The election for the seventh-term LegCo members, originally scheduled for Sept 6, will be put off for a year due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mrs Lam has said the decision of the top legislature maintains the constitutional and legal order of Hong Kong and ensures the normal governance of the government and the normal operation of society.

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