Hong Kong announces free COVID-19 testing for all citizens

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday announced a new initiative to offer universal coronavirus tests to all of the city’s citizens in a bid to identify asymptomatic cases. Addressing a press conference, Lam urged Hong Kongers to participate in the free two-week community virus testing scheme which will start on Sept. 1.

Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world with a population of 7.5 million, some 1.2 million of which had undergone testing.

Critics of Lam’s latest scheme, however, expressed concerns over what would happen to data from test samples amid heightened concerns about surveillance of citizens in the Chinese-ruled territory.

The chief executive said that each test would be identified only by an individual barcode. Participants, who can register for the test online, would be notified by the health authority if their results were positive.

Lam’s new strategy to fight the pandemic also included the setting up of two new treatment facilities, one of which would be temporarily erected at an international conference centre at Hong Kong’s international airport.

The other, with a capacity of 800 beds, would be built from scratch by local contractors and is expected to be completed within a month. As of Friday, Hong Kong had recorded 4,632 infections and 75 deaths.

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