Hong Kong Residents Revolt Against Covid-19 Quarantine Camp
(Bloomberg) -- It’s becoming a growing fear in Hong Kong: being sent to a spartan quarantine camp for as many as three weeks if a Covid-19 case is found in your apartment block. Now some residents are rebelling against the order.
The government allowed “dozens” of people to remain in their homes Thursday night after they resisted an evacuation order, the South China Morning Post reported. Jonathan Cummings, a resident of the Royalton 1 building in Pok Fu Lam, said he and some neighbors had sent a letter to health chief Sophia Chan requesting they be allowed to quarantine in their homes, the SCMP reported.
Under pressure from Beijing, Hong Kong’s government has taken increasingly extreme measures to prevent another wave taking hold in the city of 7.5 million. Residents returning to the city are currently subject to a two-to-three week quarantine stay in a hotel on a select list, unless they are coming from mainland China. Most contentious however has been the policy of sending all inhabitants of a housing block to quarantine if a single case is found in the building. Last month, the government evacuated residents of a roughly 400-unit block in Tung Chung to quarantine camps even if they tested negative.
Eighty of the 120 residents of the Royalton had been sent to camps as of 5 p.m. Thursday, the SCMP said, citing health officials. The order to evacuate came after a domestic helper living there was tested positive for carrying both the N501Y and E484K coronavirus mutations, found in variants from Brazil and South Africa, the SCMP reported. Apartments in the building in the southwest of Hong Kong island are available to rent for HK$68,000 ($8,800) a month for a 146 square meter unit.
The government has faced pushback in other areas. Officials this week said they were reviewing an order for the city’s 370,000 domestic helpers, many of who come from the Philippines and Indonesia, to take coronavirus tests and get vaccinated if they wanted to renew their contracts.
Hong Kong has mostly suppressed the virus, with low or zero daily case counts, but has struggled to persuade residents to get vaccinated. Just 8% of the population are fully vaccinated, despite the ready availability of such medicines.
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