Hong Kong registered a triple-digit rise in Covid-19 cases for the eighth day running on Wednesday, pushing its total infections over 3,000 since its first coronavirus outbreak in late January.
The city’s authorities are battling to manage the burden on local hospitals as a result of the surge and are facing the additional challenge that the origin of more than half of daily infections have been untraceable since mid-July.
Get the latest insights and analysis from our Global Impact newsletter on the big stories originating in China.
“My understanding is that Hong Kong people are now being tested on a voluntary basis,” Zhong said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV. “But I think if the situation goes on like this, everyone should be made to do the test.”
The Guangzhou-based “Sars hero” also said Hong Kong’s ban on dine-in services, which took effect this week, was a crucial step to contain the outbreak. Other stringent measures introduced in the city include mandatory mask wearing in public.
While the increase in cases was concerning, they were not yet growing at an exponential rate, he said. “Hong Kong’s problem was never on the medical aspect, but on containment.”
Zhong said the mainland’s experience showed strict lockdown policies had been very successful. “The mainland would have adopted even stronger measures. But Hong Kong has its own conditions, it has too little space, population density is too high, adopting the same strict measures would cause an impact on economic development and all other areas.
“So the way out is to increase testing and discover the asymptomatic patients,” he said. Zhong explained this was because people would be subjective in judging whether they had developed symptoms, while asymptomatic patients appeared able to pass on the virus in the five days before and after they began to show symptoms.
Zhong said mass gatherings of people should be stopped and there should be more of an information exchange between Hong Kong and the mainland about how to bring the pandemic under control. “Whenever Hong Kong needs assistance, we will provide help without hesitation. There should be more exchanges on pandemic control and prevention,” he said.
However, the introduction earlier this month of free Covid-19 tests for high-risk groups amid the city’s third wave of infections has already stirred up controversy.
Local district councillors and opposition lawmakers accused the Hong Kong government of an opaque process in its decision to buy services from Shenzhen-based BGI Group and China Certification & Inspection Group which have been conducting testing in Macau. They have also expressed safety concerns.
Hong Kong authorities have been criticised for the high cost of its Covid-19 tests due to low testing ability. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said daily tests would be increased to 8,000 from next month, when additional manpower and equipment were on board.
Purchase the 120+ page China Internet Report 2020 Pro Edition, brought to you by SCMP Research, and enjoy a 30% discount (original price US$400). The report includes deep-dive analysis, trends, and case studies on the 10 most important internet sectors. Now in its 3rd year, this go-to source for understanding China tech also comes with exclusive access to 6+ webinars with C-level executives, including Charles Li, CEO of HKEX, James Peng, CEO/founder of Pony.ai, and senior executives from Alibaba, Huawei, Kuaishou, Pinduoduo, and more. Offer valid until 31 August 2020. To purchase, please click here.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Hong Kong third wave: Covid-19 total exceeds 3,000 with 118 new infections, one related death as new hotline service launched
- China reports 101 new Covid-19 cases, the highest daily spike in months, as regions try to control outbreaks
- Hong Kong third wave: health chief has no ‘particular views’ on whether Covid-19 should delay Legislative Council elections
- Hong Kong third wave: alarm as overseas pilot seen visiting top tourist spot while Covid-19 test result was pending
This article Hong Kong needs citywide coronavirus testing, China’s ‘Sars hero’ Zhong Nanshan says first appeared on South China Morning Post