The unwanted ambush lockdown

February 03, 2021 11:27
Photo: RTHK

Life is full of uncertainties but never have we felt more insecure in the last few days.

Thanks to the government’s changing tactics of ambush lockdown, we cannot help screaming while learning which districts or buildings in Hong Kong were blocked in the evening newscast.

In an attempt to identify invisible carriers and cut the transmission chain, from Jordan to Sham Shui Po to Yuen Long, the government has been setting up mandatory test zone in the areas with confirmed cases and thus higher infection risks.

If you live in an old building like me, it would be even more exciting as if you were playing “hide and seek” before undergoing a mandatory Covid-19 test.

Well, no one is sure if they were a virus carrier but then most people would find it disturbing, as witnessed on television.

Imagine if you were one of the 50 people stuck in a salon overnight inside the Majestic House at Tsim Sha Tsui.

One customer told a radio programme that the salon staff was relatively calm and offered to perform the hair cut in slow mode and even offer complimentary dyeing or colouring service that help clients stay up all night before they were allowed to go.

Unfortunately that was the rare fun comment made on the ambush lockdown. Many people showed their middle fingers because they lost freedom for a night.
Worse still, most ambush lockdown since last weekend failed to identify any carriers, raising questions if the temporary quarantine is absolutely necessary, or merely a public relation show.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government chose to seal off an area for tests based on science.

She said, "In the field of public health, success is not defined by curing a disease but by preventing the disease from happening in the first place, especially infectious diseases, so a lot of the work is prevention so as to get ahead of transmissions.”

Last week Lam had a video call with President Xi, who was far from happy with the pandemic work in Hong Kong.

All told, Hong Kong trailed behind efforts among its Greater bay Area peers such as Macau and Guangdong in ensuring zero infection case. Failing that would mean the border will remain closed, a hindrance to any meaningful recovery in the economy.

Hong Kong’s efforts in curbing the spread of Covid-19 seem piecemeal and infective, as opposed to what the government would conclude as adjusting.

Knowing that the residents under the former British colony would not sit well with any policies limiting their own freedom, the government appears to adopt a trial and error approach and changes the game plan based on public responses.

According to the latest rules, mandatory tests will be imposed on residential blocks with a single untraceable case or sewage samples collected at the building testing positive for Covid-19. Workplace with two or more confirmed cases will also be included in the compulsory testing, and required to suspend operations for thorough disinfection.

Well, life with ambush lockdown goes on, as Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung warned that they would stay before the Lunar New Year. Let’s hope the Year of Ox would end this nightmare.

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EJ Insight writer